BANGKOK - Top Public Health Ministry officials yesterday submitted a blueprint for reform of the country's public health system during their meeting with leaders of the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).
Public health permanent secretary Dr Narong Sahametapat and his deputy Dr Wachira Pengjuntr welcomed PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban and thousands of anti-government protesters who visited the ministry to ask officials to side with them.
Narong also gave a warm hug to Suthep before hundreds of officials blowing whistles and waving small national flags at the ministry's secretariat building.
Suthep gave a gold whistle to Narong, who said he accepted the whistle on behalf of officials in the entire ministry. Other groups of senior medical workers - such as the ministry's former permanent secretary Dr Paichit Warachit, the Medical Council's president Somsak Lohlekha, Thailand Nursing and Midwifery Council's president Krissada Sawaengdee - and hundreds of health volunteers welcomed Suthep.
Narong said he had proposed a blueprint to reform the country's public health system to the PDRC and he understood the committee was worried about the health issue.
He said he and the PDRC had the same idea to strengthen the country's public health system and needed a mechanism to check and balance power.
The Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) has issued a warning to state officials and civil servants not to support or join the PDRC's demonstration. Narong said when asked to explain to the CAPO about his political stance, he insisted he had done nothing wrong.
Paichit said he was not worried about the current situation at the ministry, adding that officials must be the main pillar in resolving the country's crisis.
"Reformation must come from the participation of all people," he said.
Meanwhile, Suthep said both PDRC and Public Health officials have the same ideas about a fight to improve the country. It was not a fight for a political party but for a country and benefit of the people.
"This was the first time PDRC and top officials of the Public Health Ministry had officially met each other. We will take the ministry's blueprint to resolve the country's crisis," Suthep told his supporters at the ministry.
Meanwhile, outgoing National Security Council secretary general Paradorn Pattanatabutr said the authorities would not allow a situation like this - in which Suthep and other PDRC leaders visit bureaucrats at different ministries - to continue any longer.
"We can't allow this to go on any more. This is political psychology. If we allow this to continue, it will bring negative developments for the government," Paradorn said.
He said some permanent secretaries that Suthep visited even invited the PDRC leader into their offices.