BANGKOK — Thai police have banned on a new book on Thailand’s monarchy written by a British author, citing lese majeste and the book’s “threat” to public morality.
Although Andrew MacGregor Marshall’s A Kingdom Crisis: Thailand’s Struggle for Democracy in the Twenty-First Century is not yet on sale in Thailand, Thai police announced yesterday that two reviews of the book provide sufficient evidence that the content is inappropriate for Thai audiences.
Two journalists from The Independent and South China Morning Post newspapers, which are based in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong respectively, published reviews of the book last month.
“The reviewers discussed the attitude of the author of A Kingdom in Crisis and referenced the main content published in the book,” the police announcement reads. “Therefore, there is sufficient evidence that the book A Kingdom in Crisis is a publication that insults, defames, and displays vengeful expression towards His Majesty the King.”
The book also threatens “peace and order, and the good morality of the people,” the announcement says.
The order was signed by Thai police chief Somyot Phumpanmuang, who has vowed to bolster a crackdown on criticism of the Thai monarchy.
Invoking the 2007 Publishing Act, the announcement set a maximum punishment of three years in prison and a fine of 60,000 baht for importing or distributing the book. The order also instructs officials to “confiscate and destroy the aforementioned publication” if they encounter it.
The order did not mention any penalties for acquiring A Kingdom in Crisis through electronic means, but Thailand’s infamous 2007 Computer Crime Act outlaws any dissemination of information deemed insulting toward the monarchy through a computer system.
The author of the book, Andrew M. Marshall, says he resigned from Reuters in 2011 in order to tell the “Thai Story,” which involves intrigues about the royal family and their alleged role in the country’s recent political crises.
Last night, Marshall publicly thanked Thai police on Twitter for banning his book. “Many thanks to the Royal Thai Police for banning my new @ZedBooks publication ‘A Kingdom in Crisis,'” he wrote. “Great for publicity!”
Marshall argues in his book that the power struggle between Thailand’s opposing political camps is in large part driven by a conflict regarding the royal succession to the Thai throne.
Like all other aspects of the monarchy, discussing the royal succession is taboo in Thailand. Under Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Codes, a law known as lese majeste, criticisng the royal family is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Thai authorities have previously banned websites and books that are perceived to violate the draconian law.
In 2006, Thai police issued ban on The King Never Smiles, a biography of Thailand’s King Bhumibol that was written by American academic Paul Handley.
A Thai-American was later sentenced in 2011 for two and a half years for allegedly translating the book into Thai language. The defendant, Joe Gordon, was eventually pardoned and released from prison after one year.
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