Hospital chief admits slapping and stripping smoking teen
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Hospital chief admits slapping and stripping smoking teen

Outspoken Dr Rienthong Nanna justifies dispensing harsh discipline and vows to fight any charges

Maj Gen Dr Rianthong Nanna, the outspoken director of Mongkutwattana Hospital, is in the headlines again, this time for slapping the face of a 14-year-old boy and ordering him to walk naked out of the hospital as punishment for smoking in a hospital restroom. (File photo)
Maj Gen Dr Rianthong Nanna, the outspoken director of Mongkutwattana Hospital, is in the headlines again, this time for slapping the face of a 14-year-old boy and ordering him to walk naked out of the hospital as punishment for smoking in a hospital restroom. (File photo)

A lawyer has asked police to press charges against Maj Gen Dr Rienthong Nanna, the outspoken director of Mongkutwattana Hospital, who has admitted to slapping the face of a 14-year-old boy and ordering him to walk naked out of the hospital as punishment for smoking in a restroom.

Lawyer Ratchaphon Sirisakhon on Wednesday took the boy and his mother Kanlaya to give statements to police investigators at the Thung Song Hong station over an incident that occurred on Monday night at the private hospital in Bangkok.

The teenager was caught smoking in an outpatient department restroom on the first floor of Building 3 at about 10.30pm on Monday.

According to the boy, he saw a group of hospital staff standing in front of the restroom when he emerged. He was taken to the hospital lobby and asked to pay a 5,000-baht fine for smoking.

A staff member then seized his mobile phone, kept it to the cashier’s counter and told him to wait for the hospital director.

The boy said that a man, identified later as Dr Rienthong, walked towards him and asked why he had smoked in the hospital. After asking the question, the man slapped him in the face four times until he cried.

Dr Rienthong then kicked the boy in the face twice and kneed him near his left eye. After that, he ordered the teen to take off his clothes and walk naked out of the hospital.

On arriving at the entrance of Chaeng Watthana Soi 12, the boy said he sought help from a passerby to borrow a mobile phone to contact a relative to pick him up.

The lawyer said he wanted police to investigate five offences committed by the hospital chief against the boy: physical assault causing mental harm; embezzlement; coercing another person to do or not do something or causing the person to fear for their safety; illegal detention; and committing indecent acts.

He said he had yet to contact Dr Rienthong over the incident because the latter refused to hold talks.

The boy’s mother said she apologised for her son’s action for smoking in the restroom. However, she called the punishment he endured unreasonable.

“My son may not be a good guy. What he did was wrong, I accept that. But what you (Dr Rienthong) did, you have to accept it too,” said Ms Kanlaya.

The boy admitted he was not aware that smoking in the hospital was wrong. He denied allegations that he later led a group of motorcyclists to create trouble at the hospital after the incident.

He said he sought help from people in the area to help contact his mother to pick him up. His mother later took a taxi to the hospital on that night, said the boy.

On Wednesday, Dr Rienthong said he would raise the fine for smoking in his hospital from 5,000 baht to 500,000 baht.

He announced that Mongkutwattana Hospital was a smoke-free place and also a “wayward people-free” area, in keeping with his well-known views about social undesirables.

The hospital director admitted he slapped and kicked the teenager and ordered him to strip because he wanted him to understand the consequences of his actions.

The teen’s mobile phone and clothes were at the hospital and his mother could come and get them without having to pay a fine, he added.

Dr Rienthong also vowed to fight the case if the teenager’s family wanted to take legal action against him.

An outspoken ultraroyalist, Dr Rianthong is no stranger to controversy. A decade ago he set up a group he called the Rubbish Collection Organisation, saying its supporters would track down suspected lese-majeste offenders.

He has also been known for his campaign to purge his hospital of anyone who does not share his beliefs.

In 2020 he was accused of employment discrimination after declaring he would demand that new recruits give him access to their social media accounts.

Last year he was given a suspended prison term and fined 200,000 baht in a defamation case filed against him by Sira Jenjaka, a former Palang Pracharath Party MP for Bangkok.

The complaint stemmed from a vulgar Facebook post the doctor made accusing Mr Sira of obstructing the work of a field hospital for Covid-19 patients.

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