Opinion: A Case of Political Purification at a Hospital

Maj Gen Rienthong Nanna at a pro-government rally on Jan. 12, 2020.

As political tension flares up anew following pro- and anti-government rallies last weekend, some took additional steps to ensure their ideological purity.

One of them is ultraroyalist private hospital director Maj Gen Rienthong Nanna, who announced on Tuesday that new applicants hoping to work at his hospital must furbish their social media records to ensure that the person doesn’t belong to the opposite political camp.

After anti-government netizens called for a boycott of the hospital as a result, Rienthong went further and declared that the sick and infirmed who hold opposite political views should feel free to move elsewhere to other hospitals.

“I challenge you, just transfer to other hospitals,” Rienthong wrote on Facebook, referring to his political opponents as “rotten oranges and red water buffaloes,” which are derogatory terms meaning the Future Forward Party and Redshirts supporters, respectively.

Read: Hospital Director Says New Hires Must Disclose Social Media Accounts

He added that people who disagree with him should also make sure that if and when they happened to be donating blood to the Thai Red Cross, they should specify to ensure that their precious bodily fluid would not end up at his hospital. The doctor boasted that he has enough blood donated from his peers in the same political camp anyhow.

Although Rienthong stopped short of barring his opponents from seeking medical service at his hospital – which would have been a severe violation of medical ethics – but it might be getting close.

Thai politics has become so toxic that, after a decade and half of struggles in which no side emerged as the outright victor, more and more people have been consumed by the toxicity of their political hatred.

People like Rienthong wanted to cleanse his hospital of any staff holding differing political views, and compared dissidents who already work there as “parasites.” In his own words, Rienthong wanted to hire people who can differentiate good from evil, and not “nefarious” people.

It is as if Rienthong (and his hospital) was convinced he would become purer if he has nothing to do with those who oppose him politically.

But he should bear in mind that we cannot solve political and ideological disagreements by disengaging with people we disagree with; instead, we should seek solutions through debate and dialogues.

Surely, this will take a long time. The past decade and a half has proven not to be sufficient and we should be prepared to go through an even longer period of political divide.

Political boycott, banning and political segregation is not the way out. If anything, it will plunge Thailand deeper into the political abyss. The belief that a society would become an ideal society if only we could get rid of those who disagree with us is not only simplistic, but also dangerous.

It’s a recipe for a totalitarian society where people who disagree are either eliminated or subjugated into remaining silent. We have seen enough of those examples in history, and we should never repeat such mistakes again.