Thai printer removes NYT content, again
published : 4 Dec 2015 at 14:42
writer: Nopporn Wong-Anan
The local printer of the International New York Times Thailand edition left blank spaces on Friday's opinion page, the second removal of content from the internationally respected newspaper this week.
"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," Page 6 said in the blank box that was supposed to contain an article about the Crown Property Bureau written by Bangkok-based journalist Tom Felix Joehnk.
The 1,050-word commentary, whose online version remained accessible to readers in Thailand, discussed the history of the Bureau, its assets, revenues and how similar agencies in Britain, Norway and the Netherlands are run.
Just three days earlier, the SET-listed printer, Eastern Printing Plc, refused to print an article portraying a gloomy outlook for the country, leaving in its place a large blank space at the centre of Tuesday's front page.
An Eastern Printing official who declined to be identified told Associated Press the article was too "sensitive", citing its right under a contract to "deny printing articles that touch upon inappropriate issues".
The article, titled "Thai spirits sagging with the economy'' in the paper's other Asian editions, described a moribund economy, pessimism after years of political turmoil and concern about the royal succession. The military took power in a May 2014 coup, and elections that were promised have been put off until at least 2017, AP reported.
The monarchy is shielded by one of the world's toughest lese majeste laws and prosecutions have increased dramatically since the military took over last year in a coup, AFP reported.
But freedom of speech has been constricted even further under the military government, prompting many publications and reporters to self-censor to avoid offending the junta.
This is the third time in three months that the newspaper's local printer has blocked publication of a piece about Thailand. The printer decided not to publish the entire Sept 22 edition because it contained an article about the future of the Thai monarchy that it also called "too sensitive to print''.
The daily, known until 2013 as the International Herald Tribune, announced recently that it was ceasing printing and distributing its print edition in Thailand as of the year-end. In a letter to subscribers, it attributed the decision to rising operating costs.
The junta, which has curbed dissent through intimidation and detentions, also has said that defence of the monarchy is its priority, and has vigorously pursued prosecutions under the law. Over the past year, there has been a significant increase in convictions, AP said.
In a 41-page report on Thailand issued last month, the Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders noted that due to censorship, threats and harassment of the media and increasing use of repressive laws, the country "is now seen as one of the region's most authoritarian regimes as regards journalists and freedom of information''.