A six-month-old issue of Marie Claire has been banned in Thailand because it carries an article that police said had criticised a member of the royal family. The lifestyle magazine’s French edition from November 2015 is subject to a police order which outlaws copies being imported or distributed within the country. Any copies found will be confiscated or destroyed by the police.
Thailand’s police chief has said the negative piece was defamatory and malicious – “affecting national security, peace and order, and the morale of the people.” It is not known why there was such a delay in outlawing the publication, but the magazine would not have been widely on sale in the kingdom. The monarchy is a delicate subject in Thailand at the moment as King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch, is being treated in hospital. Now 88, there has been little news about the revered royal’s health since he was admitted in May 2015.
There are strict laws which forbid criticism of Thailand’s monarchy, and those who appear to insult the royal family face up to 15 years behind bars for each offence. Other Western publications have also fallen foul of the rules. Last year, several New York Times articles mentioning the Thai monarchy were removed from copies sold in the country, with blank spaces left in their place. Certain issues of The Economist have been banned for carrying sensitive stories about the palace.
A significant number of people have been arrested on ‘lese majeste’ charges for social media postings, but this does not necessarily equate to expressing their opinion on the royal family.