BANGKOK – Royal Thai Police chief Pol. Gen. Somyot Poompanmuang has imposed an order to ban the import and distribution of the book entitled “A Kingdom at Crisis” into Thailand.
Pol. Gen. Somyot exercised his power under Article 10 of the Printing Act B.E. 2550 (2007), as the book’s contents made defamatory references to the Thai monarchy and contain damaging information about the Royal Institution. The book is also considered a threat to national security, peace and order, and the morality of the Thai people.
In the order, Pol Gen Somyot said violators of the ban were liable to a prison term of up to three years and/or a fine of up to 60,000 baht. He also ordered the seizure and destruction of copies of the book. The order was published in the Royal Gazette on Wednesday.
The book is not the first to be banned after being deemed critical of the royals. In 2006, an unauthorized biography of His Majesty, The King Never Smiles by Paul Handley, was banned.
The author said he was painfully aware that the book would provoke a furious reaction. “Open political debate is criminalized via draconian enforcement of the lese majeste law that outlaws any perceived criticism of the royal family,” he said.
He denied that his book defames the royal family, but admitted that, in order to tell the full story he had to break Thai law. “I have a Thai wife and a young son, and I love Thailand, but I can’t ever go back there because I would be jailed.”
British Author John Stapleton claims that those who know the country well were less surprised by news of the murder of two British tourists.
He said: “The international coverage of the brutal killing of two British backpackers on the island of Koh Tao has highlighted what many long-time observers of Thailand already knew, that its tourist industry is poorly managed and the Land of Smiles has come to justifiably be regarded as one of the most dangerous tourist destinations on Earth.”
Mr Marshall was not immediately available for comment. But in an earlier post on Twitter he said: “Many thanks to the Royal Thai Police for banning my new @ZedBooks publication ‘A Kingdom in Crisis’. Great for publicity!”