NYT edition printed with blank spaces in Thailand

NYT edition printed with blank spaces in Thailand

The International New York Times said its printer in Thailand removed an article on the moribund state of the kingdom's economy on Tuesday, leaving the edition with blank spaces, including on the cover.

It is the second time recently the paper has announced the local printer declined to run an article in a country where media freedoms have been increasingly curtailed since last year's military takeover.

Tuesday's newspaper was supposed to carry a report headlined "Thai economy and spirits are sagging", a wide-ranging piece exploring the junta's inability to kickstart the flagging economy and the disappointment felt by many ordinary Thais.

It also touched briefly on the monarchy.

Instead chunks of the front page and page six were left blank and carried the sentence: "The article in this space was removed by our printer in Thailand. The International New York Times and its editorial staff had no role in its removal."

A spokeswoman for the paper gave the same reply when asked for comment by AFP.

Eastern Printing Plc, the paper's Thai printer, would not say why it pulled the piece when contacted by AFP.

On Sept 22, Eastern Printing decided not to publish the entire newspaper because the Asia edition featured a detailed front page article on His Majesty the King.

The monarchy is shielded by one of the world's toughest lese majeste laws and prosecutions have increased dramatically since the military took over in May last year in a coup.

Media routinely self-censor when reporting on the monarchy for fear of falling foul of the broadly worded law, which carries up to 15 years in jail for each count.

Tuesday's article centred primarily on the stuttering economy.

Thailand has one of the lowest growth rates in Southeast Asia and the junta's vow to reinvigorate the economy has shown little progress, with the country blighted by high household debt, low consumer confidence and disappointing exports.

Earlier this month the International New York Times said it would cease printing in Thailand altogether by the end of the year, citing rising production costs.

It will still be available in six other Southeast Asian nations: Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar.

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