Thai Printer Decides Not to Publish Front-Page Story About How Economy Stinks

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This picture taken on December 1, 2015 in Bangkok shows a man reading the Asian edition of the International New York Times carrying a blank space on its front page.Photo: STR

The New York Times published a story earlier this week titled, “Thai Economy and Spirits Are Sagging.” It was not an uplifting tale, and it included quotes like, “No one feels like smiling anymore. Life is so stressful. I don’t know how to explain it, but it feels like nothing is working in Thailand anymore.”

It was supposed to appear on A-1 of the International New York Times’ Thailand edition on Tuesday. Instead, readers were greeted with a blank space smack-dab in the middle of the front page and a passive-aggressive caption that read, “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.” 

The printing company did print the rest of the paper around the offending article, something it couldn’t bring itself to do back in September when the Times planned on running a front-page article on very old and sick King Bhumibol Adulyadej. It is a crime to make fun of the monarch or say anything bad about him at all in Thailand, and people have been sent to jail for doing so with increasing regularity since the military took over in a coup last year. Back in August, a man was sentenced to 30 years in jail after writing a few mean Facebook posts about the king. Another man was sent to jail for ripping up a portrait of the king. 

The printer won’t have to worry about doing a final edit on the paper for much longer, though; the Times won’t be publishing in Thailand anymore because it’s too expensive — even though all of the censorship is probably reining in ink costs a tad.