BANGKOK — A hospital director said he fired one of his doctors for signing a letter denouncing the use of chemical irritants in water cannons during crackdowns against protesters.
Surgeon Jarosdao Rimphanitchayakit, who worked at the privately owned Mongkutwattana Hospital, lost her job after director Maj. Gen. Rienthong Nanna said she violated the company policy of not colluding with “the enemy.” He also defended the police’s use of the water cannons, which left many protesters and journalists with a burning sensation.
“Our hospital has a clear policy to not have as our colleagues those who collude with the enemy,” Rienthong wrote. “The dispersing of the mob was systematic and gentle, without the use of violence. Therefore I have fired doctor Jarosdao Rimphanitchayakit as of Oct. 17, 2020 at 11:19pm.”
Jarosdao posted on her social media Saturday night that she was sorry she could not continue treating her patients.
“Sorry to all of my patients. We won’t be meeting at Examination Room 9, Building B, Floor 3 again. Thank you to people who gave me a chance, such as my patients who were my best teachers,” Jarosdao wrote.
“Thank you to Ajarn Rienthong Naenna for giving this thoracic surgeon a chance to work at Mongkutwattana Hospital for a year, an invaluable experience.”
Jarosdao was one of 386 doctors who signed an open letter criticizing the police’s use of force on pro-democracy demonstrators in Bangkok on Friday, calling an unwarranted attack on a peaceful assembly.
The letter, which now attracted 1,000 signatures from doctors across the country, said the use of high pressure water cannons mixed with chemicals is an “indiscriminate” and “violent measure” that should not be adopted against peaceful protesters.
The doctors also urged the police not to use any chemical agents that cause damage to the skin or respiratory system on unarmed demonstrators, and said they were disturbed by videos of police officers refusing to make way for ambulances during the crackdown.
Jarosdao was the only doctor from Mongkutwattana Hospital to sign the petition when it was unveiled on Saturday.
“I am sorry that I could not let this slide,” she wrote in her post.
Rienthong later said that on Sunday that he received a phone call threatening to bomb the hospital, and have reported the incident to Thung Song Hong police.
“Human rights activists, artists, actors, singers, academics, and professors who are against harassment, you should speak up against harassment of Mongkutwattana Hospital too,” Rienthong wrote.
Police Col. Panudech Sukawong said by phone Monday that the case was under investigation and could not comment further.
Rienthong is notorious for his extremist views against the pro-democracy camp and those who call for reform of the monarchy.
He had announced in January that all employees at his hospital must have their social media accounts screened for anti-establishment views, and said that those who support Future Forward Party and Redshirts should not seek treatment at his hospital. .
On Oct. 2, activist Ekachai Hongkangwan said that the Medical Council of Thailand refused to comply with his call to suspend Rienthong’s medical license for his inflammatory comments.
“Doctor Riengthong Naenna’s actions are unrelated to his practice,” said the letter signed by council deputy secretary general Wisut Fongsiripaibul.
Apart from running the family-owned hospital, Rienthong is the founder of an ultraroyalist activist group that publicly identified those suspected of defaming the Royal Family and called for legal prosecution against them.