But warns civil servants to not use their status in antigovt moves
CARETAKER PUBLIC Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong yesterday condemned those who lobbed a grenade at the home of permanent secretary Dr Narong Sahametapat late on Sunday night, saying it was not right to engage in violence against people with differing viewpoints.
Pradit said he had not spoken to Narong since the M79 grenade attack, and that Narong had not reported the incident to him. The permanent secretary has been a known dissident against the Yingluck Shinawatra government and an ardent supporter of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).
The minister said he was concerned about ministry officials’ safety during the current political instability, but said they should express their personal political stance without using their status as a civil servant which endangered their own safety and workplaces.
Pradit said he would not punish Narong for his deliberate absence from a crucial meeting of permanent secretaries last Thursday called by the government’s anti-protest operation the Centre for Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO).
“There is nothing wrong about how I and Dr Narong work with each other,” he added.
A large number of ministry officials yesterday organised a gathering at the ministry compound in Nonthaburi to offer moral support to Narong over the M79 grenade attack on his home. The doctor was away from Bangkok on an official trip at the time of the attack. Narong thanked the gathering and said he regarded the attack on his house and any other political violence as a threat to the entire bureaucracy.
Narong said he would not attend a second CAPO meeting on April 30, because he expected to see reforms taking place before the next general election, which was his original political stance. He said he wished all politicians would realise this objective, or else civil servants and like-minded organisations would further push for this reform-before-election stance.
The network of government doctors based in Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Ratchasima, Trang, Songkhla, Tak and Khon Kaen yesterday gathered in a symbolic gesture at their hospitals in support of Narong, while condemning the M79 attack on his home.
Police said they were certain that those behind the M79 attack intended it to be a warning. Senior commander Pol Maj-General Suranit Phrommabutr said the grenade was aimed at a wall from a distance of about 50 metres, when the shooter could have easily hit the house.