THE Thai government will launch an investigation into the local BBC team on suspicion of insulting the monarchy in its recent online report on the profile of King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun.
According to the Bangkok Post, the Defence Ministry ordered authorities to investigate the matter involving a report last Friday after the King accepted the invitation from Parliament to accede to the throne.
”Anyone who has broken the law and caused damage must be dealt with,” said Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon.
Prawit added the government has been monitoring foreign news agencies for reports on issues deemed sensitive to check the accuracy of the reports.
The links to the stories are currently inaccessible on the BBC and BBC Thailand websites.
Under Thai law, offending the dignity of a reigning monarchy is a serious crime punishable by law with up to 15 years in prison. International rights groups have criticised the lese-majeste law, saying it leaves too much room for interpretation and that the penalties are too severe.
As for the BBC, its television coverage of Thailand has been repeatedly blocked since the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in October.
This is not the first instance of reporting by the BBC that has been deemed insensitive. Internet users in Thailand criticised BBC Three over a video montage on tourism in the country which was posted on the BBC News Facebook page a week after the death of the country’s beloved monarch. The video was removed following the criticism.
Netizens were up in arms over a video entitled “Off to Thailand? It won’t be what you expect”, which was aimed at advising tourists on how to behave appropriately while the country was in mourning.
Local media reported that users complained about the inaccuracies in the video, calling it ‘misleading’ and ‘inaccurate’. They complained that the video depicted a watered-down version of the country and that the advice contained in the montage could deter foreigners from visiting the country.
The junta government announced a one-year mourning period in the wake of the revered king’s death at age 88. Several days after his passing, regulatory bodies in the kingdom issued directives and guidelines governing public behaviour during the period of mourning for the king.
The late king, whose health had been ailing for quite some time, ruled Thailand for 70 years since 1946, surviving numerous coups and violent political conflicts.
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, 64, became Thailand’s new king last Thursday after he accepted an invitation from parliament to succeed his father.
The new king, however, has yet to command the kind of adoration his father received from Thais, and has kept a much lower profile throughout most of his adult life.
Additional reporting from Reuters