Thai Press Accounts and Images of the 2016 Royal Succession

Event details

PSC Seminar

Date & time

Tuesday 27 June 2017


PSC Reading Room 4.27, Hedley Bull Centre (130), Garran Road, ANU
ANU Canberra


Peter Jackson


Helen McMartin

Abstract From the death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol on 13 October 2016 until the formal accession to the throne of his son and appointed successor King Maha Vajiralongkorn on 1 December, there was saturation coverage of the monarchy in all of Thailand’s press and media outlets. Internationally, there has been considerable debate in academic and other forums of the limitations that Thailand’s lèse majesté law impose on public discussion of the monarchy within the country. The long prison sentences handed down in recent years to Thai citizens who have been charged with violating this law have also been widely reported both internationally and within Thailand. However, less attention has been given to how the Thai-language press and other print media have discussed and represented the transition from the reign of the late King Bhumibol, now to be known as King Bhumibol the Great, to the era of King Maha Vajiralongkorn. In this presentation paper I present a selection of images and summaries of articles from a range of Thai press outlets that reflect the diversity of Thai-language accounts of the life and legacy of King Bhumibol that were published in the weeks following his death. I also summarise Thai press accounts of the biography of King Maha Vajiralongkorn that were published in the days immediately following his accession to the throne. Despite the legal limitations of the lèse majesté law, Thai press images and accounts reflect some diversity in public discussion of the institution of the monarchy in the context of what the country’s current military government calls Thailand’s period of “transition”.

About the Speaker Peter Jackson is Emeritus Professor in Thai Studies in the ANU’s College of Asia and the Pacific. He was recently a Senior Visiting Fellow at the ISEAS Yusuf Ishak Institute in Singapore. Some of his recent publications are: “First Queer Voices from Thailand” (HKUP 2016); “The Supernaturalisation of Thai Political Culture” (Sojourn Dec. 2016); and “The Neoliberal University and Global Immobility of Theory” (book chapter, 2017).

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