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'Red power' mag stranded on Cambodian border

After nearly two months of silence, the hard-hitting anti-government Red Power magazine is back in print, though its editor Somyos Prueksakasemsuk is having a hard time moving 30,000 copies of the latest edition from Cambodia into Thailand due to alleged border blockade by the authorities.

"We're trying," Somyos told The Nation yesterday.

Cambodia is not the preferred choice for Somyos, but after 12 Thai printing houses turned him down, including three in Chiang Mai - former PM Thaksin Shinawatra's stronghold - due to fear of government harassment, Somyos had no other option.

"There is no freedom. There is no space for us to express ourselves even though we chose to fight peacefully," he said in reference to the situation in Thailand when it comes to opposition media.

Somyos, himself detained under the emergency decree for weeks after May 19, said no distributors would carry his publication because they're "afraid", adding that authorities checked the last distributor's two years' worth of tax records.

Despite the fact that most copies of this fortnightly magazine have not arrived in Thailand yet, Somyos appears hopeful that something can be done about it. The publication is now priced at Bt45 instead of Bt40 to reflect the higher cost of printing overseas.

"Normally, we can transport things [into the Kingdom] easily. Now the officers at checkpoints are meticulous," he said, adding that the beefed up border checkpoints may have to do with his magazine and the fact that the authorities are tightening the border to look out for fugitive red-shirt leader Arisman Pongruangrong.

If he succeeds in "smuggling" the magazine's copies into Thailand, Somyos said he would have to sell them by himself and rely on subscription. "The magazines haven't reached Bangkok yet," he reiterated.