Meet the most trusted person in Thailand

By Ahmad Kamal Alias, Harakah Daily 

PETALING JAYA, Aug 20: While minister in the prime minister’s department Nazri Aziz had once called Thai forensic expert Dr Pornthip Rojanasunan a “liar”, a Reader’s Digest survey published earlier this year found that Pornthip was the most trusted individual in all of Thailand.

The survey found that the public’s trust in Pornthip, whose testimony at the ongoing inquest into the death of DAP officer Teoh Beng Hock has irked the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and several government leaders, also exceeded their trust in Phra Ajarn Alongkot Dikkapanyo, the head monk at a Buddhist temple in aid of AIDS victims, who ranked second.

During the last session of the inquest, Pornthip was subjected to agressive line of questioning which bordered on personal attacks and even questioning her academic qualifications.

On August 18, MACC’s counsel Abdul Razak Musa drew jeers from observers when he said that the university from which Pornthip graduated was not recognised by Malaysia, suggesting that Pornthip was not qualified to testify.

Unable to take the persistent attacks any longer, Pornthip shot back that she was also only interested in “the rights of the dead”.


Pornthip after all is sometimes known as “Dr Death”. The dead may not be able to speak on behalf of Pornthip, but her vast experience and no-nonsense approach when dealing with her work made her one of the most respected figures in Thailand.

Dr Pornthip Rojanasunan, according to respondents of the survey conducted in October last year, has worked “dedicatedly and fearlessly to bring justice to our society,” said the magazine in its March 2010 edition.

Long before fictitious heroes such as CSI Miami’s sunglasses-wearing Seargent Horatio Caine and CSI:NY’s stern-faced Detective Mac Taylor came into the scene to give forensic scientists their long-awaited recognition by Hollywood, Pornthip had already adapted her own unique style defying the stereotypical portrayal of people in her line of work as nerds locked in their labs with their plain white suits.

Pornthip’s flamboyant, punk-dyed hairstyle and eccentric clothing style, however, have made her a darling among media photographers, including in Malaysia.

In one interview, Pornthip said she considered herself to be “individualistic”, but for a noble aim.

“I originally chose to study pathology, which is shunned by most medical students. I intend to work in the government bureaucracy, and see that I can contribute to solutions of social problems to an extent. Besides, I am serious with my work, I love justice and fairness, and am very individualistic.

“This is why I made this choice in life. In studying pathology and anatomy, about 10 percent of the work involved autopsies. So, I experienced these, but not on a full-cycle basis.”

Born in 1954, Pornthip is today Thailand’s most renowned forensic pathologist and director of  the Central Institute of Forensic Science, an organisation under the country’s Ministry of Justice. Her expert opinion has been eagerly sought after for evidence-gathering and investigation purposes.