Police order story off worldwide web

BANGKOK (AFP): Thai police have today ordered The Economist magazine to take its controversial Thailand survey off its website, where it was made available for free after being barred from (hard-copy) distribution here. The Economist’s circulation director for Asia, Peter Bakker, said the company decided to put the 14-page survey on the website to serve readers and subscribers in Thailand who missed out on the hard copy. “We made it free of charge this time,” Bakker said. Economist country surveys are normally only available on the Internet for a fee, or to subscribers. National police spokesman Major General Pongsapat Pongcharoen said authorities would check the economist.com website to verify that the article was there. “We will check, and if we find it there we will contact them and ask them to remove it from the web, he told AFP. Hong Kong-based Bakker said The Economist had not yet been contacted by Thai police, but that it would be reluctant to remove the article from the website. “I doubt that we would, to be very honest,” he said. “The web is a world-wide institution, available to everyone. We would consider it, but frankly it is something that’s quite out of the ordinary. I’d like to see the request first.” The special coverage, written by Bangkok-based correspondent Edward McBride, was reviewed by police who took exception to a section dealing with the nation’s revered monarchy. The Economist agreed Saturday not to distribute the March 2 edition containing the survey, after being told that if it did hit the news stands it would be banned and seized. “We have refrained from circulating the hard copy, but The Economist will continue to stand by its independent, objective and free reporting,” Bakker said.

Phuket News

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