New Mandala has been sent the following draft letter by a contact in Bangkok. It was written by a diligent officer in Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Its authenticity cannot be verified but it raises issues that may be of interest to some readers.
Dear Sir, I must protest in the strongest possible terms about your newspaper’s interview with convicted criminal Thaksin Shinawatra. The report written by your Asia Correspondent Richard Lloyd Parry breaches one of my country’s most sacred taboos. Mr Lloyd Parry writes that Thaksin spoke favourably about Thailand’s Crown Prince. This is unacceptable. Everyone knows that it is culturally inappropriate, and extremely insensitive, to discuss the Crown Prince in favourable terms. Anyone with the most superficial knowledge of Thai culture will know that the Crown Prince is only ever referred to negatively. There are only certain topics on which polite discussion about him is considered appropriate: his dubious educational record; his flamboyant private life; his health; his regular travels to Europe; and his wife’s minimalist dress sense. A “shining” royal future for the Crown Prince following the death of the King, to quote Thaksin’s offensive phrase, is something that few Thais would want to contemplate.
As an Englishman, I am sure you can understand how Crown Princes should be treated by the media. Mr Lloyd Parry’s report is the first international report that I can remember that has referred favourably to Thailand’s Crown Prince. I certainly hope that it is the last!
Under-Secretary for International Media Monitoring