It has been announced by the Royal Gazette in Thailand, that the November issue of the women’s magazine “Marie-Claire” has been banned. The magazine transgressed the country’s strict rules about coverage of royal matters. Something which is taken very seriously in Thailand, and each perceived insult can carry a jail sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
The announcement by Thailand’s Police Chief, Chakthip Chaijinda, said that the article was defamatory and malicious to the Royal family, affecting “national security, peace and order and the morale of the people”. Any copies of the magazine found, will according to the order be confiscated and destroyed.
This is not the first time recently an international magazine has fallen foul of the Thailand’s strict lese majeste laws. Local distributors are sometimes loathed to take risks, and several editions of The Economist carrying articles about the palace have not been delivered within the country. Also an article about the Royal family’s wealth was blacked out of the December issue of International New York Times.
There have been concerns about the health of 88-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who has spent most of the last year in a Bangkok Hospital. For more information on this please see the earlier article on Royal Central by Jamie Samhan.
The King has ruled Thailand since 1946, and amidst the country’s political instability he has managed to unify and stabilise Thailand. Though he has no political power, he has always been held in great reverence by the Thai people. He is considered a father figure in a culture where parents are treated with honour and respect. Such articles are seen as an attack on country as much as the King. Hence the concern that the effect of an article such as the one in Marie-Claire could have on the people of Thailand.