Medical workers split over election on Sunday

national February 01, 2014 00:00

By Pongphon Sarnsamak
The Nation

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Medical societies in Thailand are practically split in half, with some members backing the February 2 election and some standing against.

Dr Peesadej Sammanant, who leads the “Friend of Democracy” group, said he and his colleagues would cast votes on Sunday in a bid to protect and exercise their rights. The group is made up of some 700 medical workers including physicians, pharmacists and healthcare workers.
“Every citizen has the right to choose a party or candidate that they like. They may not vote for anybody, but that is their right,” he said. 
Peesadej, who is a physician at Chiang Mai’s Nakornping Hospital, said he agreed with the People’s Democratic Reform Committee’s movement to reform society and get rid of inequalities, but he said these changes should comply with the Constitution, which is the country’s highest law.
“Even though I agree with them, I want to protect the democratic process,” he said.
He advised medical workers to not involve their medical institutes or hospitals in the political battle, adding that medical institutions should remain neutral as every medical worker’s duty is to provide care and save lives no matter who a patient supports.
However, another group of medical workers held a candlelight vigil at the Public Health Ministry as a symbol of protest against the election. 
The group, known as the “Public Health Society”, issued a statement saying its members would not cast a vote on Sunday. The statement also said the election was not legitimate and that they wanted reforms to be put in place first. 
The society is comprised of various clubs and agencies under the Public Health Ministry, four medical schools and seven medical organisations.

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