Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thailand's Fearless 'Dr. Death'

There has been lots of interest here about Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunand, Director of the Forensic Science Institute, Ministry of Justice, Thailand, since she came to Malaysia. So I thought I will do some research in order to find out more about this extraordinary forensic pathologist.

BBC News did a write-up on her on June 11, 2009 (Webpage
Forensic pathologist is the last job to spring to mind when you see Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand. She is wearing jangly bracelets and skin tight jeans. But what really stands out – and up – is her spiky red hair.

Her fashion sense helped determine her career choice.

As a girl she loved medicine, but since doctors in Thailand are expected to dress and behave conservatively, she decided to shun patients in favor of corpses.

"The dead can't criticize me," she says, "so I wear what I like".

She does not always go for acid colours, though. On the cover of one of her best-selling true life crime books she appears draped in virginal white silk, cradling a skull.

It is not just Dr Pornthip's looks and books which are unconventional. So is her attitude to the police. She has been at odds with them for more than 20 years, ever since a case involving one of her own medical students.

The student was killed by her jealous boyfriend, who chopped her body into 168 pieces. Police found a blood stain in the boyfriend's car, but failed to act on it. Dr Pornthip finally got permission to search his flat, found another bloodstain on the bathroom floor and established that it was the victim's. Then she found human remains in the toilet tank. The case was a sensation and alerted many Thais to the importance of DNA evidence.

From webpage, accessed October 25, 2009, some interesting facts about Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunand (born December 21, 1955):

“Dubbed Dr Death, she spends more time with the dead than the living, a fact which apparently terrified her husband. She’s married to a bank manager in Bangkok and they have a teenage daughter. She writes books about her work in her spare time. Her favorite TV show is unsurprisingly “CSI: Miami”. She sleeps for only 4 hours a day, a habit that started when she entered her profession 30 years ago.”
A passionate advocate of human rights, Dr. Pornthip's work has been honoured by King Bhumibol, who gave her the honorary title 'Khunying', which is the Thai equivalent of Dame in 2003.

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