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Order banning officials from taking leave withdrawn after outcry

THE PUBLIC HEALTH Ministry has cancelled the controversial order preventing its officials from taking any leave except for illness between January 13 and 25.

"That order can't be valid. A deputy permanent secretary signed it for the permanent secretary while the latter was at work that day," Dr Bancha Khakong of the ministry's Central Administration Bureau said yesterday.

Signed by deputy permanent secretary Chanvit Tharathep last Friday, the order provoked the ire of several doctors and officials, many of whom confronted Chanvit on Monday because the order was seen as a deterrent for those planning to join the People's Democratic Reform Committee's protest against the government.

The PDRC has staged a "Bangkok shutdown" campaign since Monday, with its supporters now occupying major intersections in the capital.

Recently, the Public Health Society (PHS) also released a statement demanding the resignation of the caretaker government.

The move is in agreement with the PDRC's goal of overthrowing the government.

As a member of PHS, Narong Sahametapat, permanent secretary of the ministry, had endorsed the statement.

Narong yesterday held a videoconference with provincial public-health chiefs to explain that Chanvit |was assigned to medical development only.

Bancha said ministry officials could now ask for leave in line with standard procedures.

During yesterday's conference, Narong also said public officials had the right to express their opinions.

"But please also do your duty," he said.

None of the ministry's units should suspend services, he said.

Provincial units interested in |providing medical support in the |capital can now contact Dr Anurak Amornpetchsathaporn, chief of |the Emergency Medical Bureau, he added.


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