5 March 2002
Source: Bangkok Post
The Far Eastern Economic Review yesterday made a formal apology for the “misunderstanding and controversy” involving Thailand’s monarchy.
But it said its two Bangkok-based correspondents would not be replaced even if they are deported.
The apology came as the magazine’s sister publication, The Asian Wall Street Journal, criticised the Thaksin government’s handling of the matter in its editorial.
David Lyman, representative of the Hong Kong-based weekly magazine, delivered the letter of apology to Parliament President Uthai Pimchaichon, following an appeal lodged with the Immigration Bureau for a renewed visa for Shawn Crispin and Rodney Tasker.
Parliament secretary general Sirilak Panbamrungkit received the magazine’s letter of apology on behalf of Mr Uthai and forwarded it to the Immigration Bureau’s committee in charge of considering visas for the correspondents.
“As Editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review, I am writing to you to convey my sincere regret for the misunderstanding and controversy that has been generated by an article published in our issue of January 10, 2002,” magazine editor Michael Vatikiotis wrote in the letter.
“The Far Eastern Economic Review is fully cognizant and sensitive to the protocol surrounding reporting of the royal institution, which is revered by all Thai people and is also held in the highest esteem by the Far Eastern Economic Review, and indeed throughout the world.
“It was never the intention of the Far Eastern Economic Review to write or generate any adverse commentary concerning Thailand’s highest institution and if our issue of January 10 has been so interpreted, we most sincerely apologize for it.
“We will continue to be vigilant in the future so that we do not cause offense to Thai sensibilities about the monarchy,” the letter said.
Mr Lyman said: “The police told me there were no criminal charges, no lese majeste charge, no violation of immigration laws lodged against them. And I believe that the appeal will come off in favour of Shawn and Rodney.”
“They were free to go anywhere in the country. There was no arrest made and there was no bail,” Mr Lyman said.
The magazine’s legal adviser said the appeal process would take a matter of five days to two weeks before the immigration committee makes a final decision, and if it failed to help the foreign correspondents, he would proceed to the Administrative Court.
Nevertheless, neither Mr Crispin nor Mr Tasker would be replaced with anyone else from the magazine, though the two might possibly be judged guilty and deported as persona non grata from Thailand, he said.
He quoted Mr Vatikiotis as saying the magazine had maintained a “productive relationship” with Thailand and the Thai people for over fifty years.