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Medical workers threaten speed-up of anti-govt protest

THOUSANDS OF medical workers joined the anti-government demonstration to shut down Bangkok and block one of the capital's main areas, the Lat Phrao five-way intersection.

They demanded political reform before the election and the establishment of a neutral and acceptable mechanism to reform politics and prevent the corruption of democracy.

The medical workers said the election on February 2 should be postponed and the caretaker government led by Yingluck Shinawatra should stand aside and pave the way for political reform. If the government did not respond to their demands, they would escalate their demonstration to topple the government, the workers said.

The group is led by former senior health officials and health experts. They include former public health minister Dr Mongkol na Songkla, who was appointed during the military government in 2006; former Food and Drug Administration secretary general Dr Siriwat Thiptharadol; former Medical Emergency Institute of Thailand director Dr Chatree Chareonchiwakul; Thailand Health Promotion Institute director Dr Hatai Chitanont; National Health Commission secretary general Dr Amphon Jindawattana; former Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr Phaijit Warachit; and Dr Banlu Siripanich, former chairman of the fact-finding committee to investigate irregularities in the Thai Khem Khaeng project run by former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr Narong Sahamethapat said the ministry had kept a close eye out for any violence at political demonstrations in three provinces - Buri Ram, Phitsanulok and Ayutthaya.

Since the political turmoil started in Bangkok two months ago, 286 people have been injured and three killed. About 15 have been admitted to hospitals in Bangkok.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's Erawan Medical Emergency Services Centre reported yesterday that a 30-year-old man had been shot in the neck near Chaeng Wattana Road. He was undergoing treatment at Mongkut Watthana Hospital after losing a lot of blood.

The Public Health Ministry reported the man was shot near the anti-government demonstration barricade at Soi 14 on Chaeng Wattana Road.

Meanwhile, despite the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) threat to shut down Bangkok and block several main areas in the capital, officials at the Public Health Ministry were working as usual.

Yesterday a temporary employee at the ministry used a loudspeaker to criticise PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban and ask health officials not to join the demonstration.

"I want to ask you who pays your wages? We work for our country, not Suthep," he shouted.

Some health officials eventually blew whistles at him.

Protesters also shouted and blew whistles at the ministry's deputy permanent secretary Dr Chanwit Tarathep for backing the government.




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