Health chief boycotts Capo meeting

Public health chief Narong Sahamethapat said he will defy the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order's (Capo) demand that all ministerial permanent secretaries attend a meeting on Thursday for instruction on how to respond to the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

Dr Narong, the health permanent secretary, said on Wednesday he would not attend the meeting called by caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, the Capo chief adviser, after PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban made a series of "visits" to various ministries over the past week.

Mr Surapong said last week that he wanted to warn permanent secretaries and state officials that they should  not welcome PDRC leaders but should instead continue to work without paying attention to them, because the protest leaders are all law-breakers.

Dr Narong said he thought a government official should be open to opinions on reforms of various aspects of the country's administration, and take part in exploring ways out of the current crisis.

He said he was acting impartially, as a state official should.

The public health permanent secretary also said he disapproved of the Capo's order which rebuked Kittipong Kritayarak, the justice permanent secretary, for his warm welcome to Mr Suthep during the protesters' visit to the Justice Ministry on April 8. This should not have been written into the order, Dr Narong said.

Dr Narong called on other permanent secretaries to think about their dignity.

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