8 medical faculties call for Feb 2 election delay

BANGKOK POST Issued date 21 January 2014

PARITTA WANGKIAT

Health workers join rally, demand reform

Eight medical faculties yesterday issued a joint statement calling for a delay of the Feb 2 election and the ouster of the caretaker government to pave the way for the setting-up of an interim one.

In a five-point statement, the deans proposed the election be deferred to avoid a deeper conflict and violent confrontation. They said poll should be delayed until all parties concerned find common ground on how to achieve a fair and transparent election.

They also called for comprehensive political reforms especially acquisition of power, use of power and scrutiny of the use of power.

They said that it was important the caretaker government should make a sacrifice by standing down and allowing an interim government to be formed to manage the political situation and supervise the election.

According to the statement, all parties should refrain from violence, provocation and distortion of information and support dialogue efforts to foster national reconciliation.

The statement was signed by the heads of eight medical faculties from seven universities the Siriraj and Ramathibodi campuses of Mahidol University, and Thammasat, Burapha,Chulalongkorn, Prince of Songkla, Naresuan and Rangsit universities.

The statement came as several hundred public health workers from various medical institutes marched with the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) to call for reform before an election and the ouster of the government.

Around 1,000 health professionals gathered at Pathumwan intersection yesterday to show their solidarity with anti-government protesters.

It was the biggest gathering of health workers since the PDRC kicked off its protest to oust caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and to delay the general election to pave the way for national reform.

The health professionals’ demonstration, dubbed the “white-gown protest”, was attended by doctors,nurses, and public health staff from across the country.

It included forensic expert and Justice Ministry inspector-general Khunying Porntip Rojanasunan.

Rural Doctors Society (RDS) members, staff from state-run hospitals such as Siriraj, Chulalongkorn and Ramathibodi, and the National Health Commission Office also attended.

PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban later led the health workers from Pathumwan to Asok intersection.

Khunying Porntip said doctors organised the gathering because they felt the caretaker government should no longer be in office, while the Feb 2 election would be a waste of taxpayers’ money since there would not be enough MPs for parliament to sit.

“Doctors don’t usually come out for street protests,” Khunying Porntip said.”This proves that they see problems in Thai politics.”

Before the gathering, permanentsecretary Public Health Narong Sahametapat called a meeting of 18 provincial health chiefs and told them not to abandon their duties.

He instructed them to make sure that medical services and emergency care are run normally during the political turmoil.

Supat Hasuwannakit, an RDS core member who was at the march yesterday, said hospital services would not be affected by doctors and health staff protesting.

Most hospitals have four shifts. Staff can join the protest daily whenever they are not on duty, Dr Supat said.

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