January 13, 2014 00:00 By Suriyan Panyawai
Thousands of medical workers yesterday gave support to senior Public Health Ministry officials who last Thursday rejected the Yingluck administration's right to govern, saying they did not want to work with the government.
The group of medical workers – the so-called “Public Health Society” comprising 20 public health communities – include the Thai Federation of General and Central Hospital Doctors, the Director of Rural Hospitals Society, the Public Health Society of Thailand and the Dentistry Society.
Yesterday they visited the Public Health Ministry to back its permanent secretary, Dr Narong Sahamethapat.
Last week he was warned by caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra about publicly expressing his political stance, and over his joining the society to issue a statement against the government.
Prachumporn Boonchareon, a member of the society, said Narong had done the right thing in opposing the government. She said the government did not have the moral right to run the country. Medical workers at the Public Health Ministry would only follow orders from Narong and opposed any intervention from the government, she said.
Previously, caretaker Public Health Minister Pradith Sinthawanarong issued an order designating the deputy permanent secretary to take charge – instead of Narong – of overseeing the emergency medical services operation during the political turmoil. Pradith also issued an order prohibiting health officials from taking leave or joining any political movement.
Pradith said he would set up a committee to investigate the facts behind Narong’s political stance, but said the permanent secretary would not be punished for his actions. Pradith said all officials had the right to express their political opinions and were free to take leave and join the protest.
Meanwhile, Narong said he wanted to thank the health officials for their support, adding that he believed he had done the right thing to serve the public. However, he would not quit the top position at the ministry, he said.