Economist magazine in trouble

BANGKOK (AFP): The latest edition of the Economist magazine is likely to be banned in Thailand over an article that referred to the monarchy, police said yesterday. “It’s highly likely that the authorities will impose a ban on the sale or distribution of the magazine here,” a Special Branch police source said. A police review found that a 14-page survey of Thailand in the latest issue contained an item on Thailand’s “highest institution” that was “aggressive and inappropriate”, he said. Tensions over the foreign media are running high in Thailand, as the government presses to deport two Bangkok-based journalists with the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) for an article that touched on the government’s relations with the monarchy. The Economist’s circulation director for Asia, Peter Bakker, said the weekly magazine normally hits the newsstands by Friday lunchtime but that the Thai distributors had been told to keep the March 2 edition in the warehouse. “Before we start distributing it we want a statement from the police because, obviously, I don’t want to upset the local authorities,” he told AFP. Hong Kong-based Bakker said some 2,500 copies were usually put on Thai newsstands each week, and up to 1,800 went to subscribers. The survey covered a range of issues on Thailand, including the health of its democratic institutions as well as the flourishing trade in sex and drugs. However, Bakker said that while the police had not raised any specific complaints it was likely they were examining the section on the monarchy, which discussed the normally off-limits issue of succession. The Economist is also in trouble in Malaysia for articles about action taken against foreign workers. Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heung said this week that the publication was “under review”. Meanwhile, FEER journalists Rodney Tasker and Shawn Crispin have lodged appeals against deportation orders served last weekend, after they were named on an immigration blacklist for allegedly posing a threat to national security.

Phuket News

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