Dr. Porntip – a true Thai hero
It’s so refreshing to hear about popular people in positions of influence who are actually doing useful and interesting things, rare as that is. Dr. Porntip Rojanasunan is the head medical examiner in Thailand – consummately professional, brutally honest, and wonderfully irreverent. She has had huge amounts of work to do lately – from the government’s murderous “war on drugs” that killed 2,500 people without trial, to the government’s inept handling of unrest in the deep south, to the tsunamis. Every step of the way she winds up dealing with irritations ranging from publicy-seeking incompetents like the prime minister’s wife, who showed up at a temple with reporters in tow to “help identify bodies” (she must have brushed up on her forensic skills while looking for her stolen purse), to death threats from police covering up their murders.
The SF Chronicle had a great article about her this week – the full text is attached below. One interesting point was how she complained about the poor state of Thailand’s forensic capabilities that made it necessary to send DNA samples to China for testing. The Ministry of Health had announced this week that all the identification would be done in Thailand within a month (a typically idiotic Thaksin-like promise made by his lapdog Sudarat, the Minister of Health). Just today, they retracted that and admitted the DNA testing would be done in China. Not because Thailand was unprepared like Dr. Porntip points out, but as a “gesture to acknowledge China