New Mandala readers who have been following the case of Harry Nicolaides will want to read this reflection published in today’s The Sydney Morning Herald. Penned by a former Mae Fah Laung University colleague, Heath Dollar, it discusses Harry’s desire “to create a sensation, a publicity stunt to land an author on the literary map”. Harry’s reply is available here.

UPDATE: Forde Nicolaides statement

Dear all, there has been some media attention today claiming that Harry’s book was a ‘publicity stunt’. The suggestion that Harry intentionally sought a charge of Lese Majeste and a term of imprisonment in Thailand is baseless for the following obvious reasons –

1. The book was submitted to the Palace, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Thai Ministry of Culture for approval. The book was also accepted in to the National Library of Thailand and issued an ISBN number in 2005
2. The maximum penalty for a Lese Majeste offence is 15 years and there was no guarantee of a royal pardon in his case
3. The book was published 3 years ago and attracted no attention
4. The charge was only laid when the political situation in Thailand deteriorated
5. Harry’s case has been supported by Amnesty International, Reporters without Borders, International Pen, The International Commission of Jurists, the Australian govt, the Federal Opposition, the Victorian govt and thousands of people who have signed a petition of support
6. Harry spent 6 months in extremely harsh conditions in Thailand during which time his mother became very ill
7. The allegations made by Mr Heath Dollar, the person named in the Age and SMH today, claim that he advised Harry not to publish the book. Mr Dollar has a profile at that records that in April this year, which must mean 2008, he “returned to the United States after twenty months of teaching at a university in Northern Thailand”. That means his time in Thailand commenced from August 2006, which is well after December 2005 when Harry’s book was published. This indicates he could not have given any advice to Harry before publication.

The suggestion that Harry would have deliberately brought this experience on himself and that all the organisations that supported him were somehow misled is completely without foundation.

Forde Nicolaides

UPDATE 2: More on Heath Dollar’s accusations

Readers keen to learn more about this story will find this more recent article helpful.