Anger at police impunity was in circulation again today after an officer killed a pedestrian with his racing motorcycle as she crossed a Bangkok road.
Lance Cpl. Norawich Buadok was charged yesterday with fatal reckless driving, two days after he hit and killed Waraluck “Doctor Kratai” Supawatjariyakul, 33, as she crossed Phaya Thai Road. Since then, #DoctorKratai and #WhatGoodDoCopsDo have trended online along with condemnations of Norawich for speeding through the zebra crossing without slowing down or stopping
“These villains in the police uniforms are supposed to uphold the law but, time and again, these fuckers are the ones who break those laws bcos they believe they are above the law,” Ny_avengers tweeted.
Waraluck died at the scene Friday afternoon in front of the Bhumirajanagarinda Kidney Institute Hospital. Norawich suffered only minor injuries. The Ducati Monster he was riding reportedly did not have mirrors or a license plate.
Recalling the unusual wealth of a police chief accused of torturing a suspect to death, questions were raised as to how a lower-ranking cop could afford such a bike, which sells for nearly half a million baht. Some speculated that Norawich had purloined the Ducati from police vehicle impound.
He has also been released on his own recognizance, according to Maj. Gen. Jirasant Kaewsaengek, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau.
Under traffic law, drivers must slow down when reaching any junction, pedestrian crossing, stop line, or roundabout. However, as is often the case, the laws are poorly enforced, with law enforcement often turning a blind eye to offenders.
Today would have been Waraluck’s 34th birthday. Her funeral at Wat Phra Sri Mahathat in Bangkok’s Bang Khen district started Sunday and continues until tomorrow. Her body will be cremated Wednesday.
Norawich attended the funeral on Sunday. Pictures circulated on social media on Sunday showed him apologizing to Waraluck’s parents.
Waraluck’s father, Anirut Supawatjariyakul, told reporters that despite being devastated by the incident, he forgave Norawich.
Catastrophe Before Change
Waraluck was a member of Chulalongkorn University’s Department of Ophthalmology. She studied at the Patumwan Demonstration School and the Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital at Mahidol University. Later, she continued her studies at Wat Rai Khing and an eye surgery research unit at Chulalongkorn Hospital.
Her death inflamed passions and fueled demands for stricter safety measures to protect everyone on Thailand’s dangerous roads.
Smith Srisont, a doctor and former classmate of Waraluck, said the incident was a wake-up call.
“If I get a chance to get involved in Thailand’s traffic law, I would push for the zebra crossings in Thailand to be practical ones where motorists really stop for pedestrians, just like in Japan,” Smith wrote. “It should not be like this, destroying the future of someone good.”
Miss Thailand Universe Anchilee Scott-Kemmis, who was recently accused of “insulting” the flag, also spoke out.
“A cross walk should be a spot where pedestrians feel safe to cross the street. We, as motorists, need to have that awareness for pedestrians,” Anchilee tweeted. My heart goes out to the doctor’s family. This shouldn’t have happened.”
Ittaporn Kanacharoen, secretary-general of the Medical Council of Thailand, wrote Sunday that stricter enforcement of traffic laws must be imposed on motorists. He suggested the city create more pedestrian bridges or tunnels instead of zebra crossings at places where many pedestrians cross the road or cars pass at high speed.
“Give us a safe crosswalk. [We need] stricter laws, clearer signs and traffic lights, sufficient light, CCTV cameras, and strict enforcement of traffic laws imposed on both cars and motorcycles,” Ittaporn wrote. “Please give us a pedestrian bridge or tunnels to protect everyone’s precious life.”
Apart from stricter laws, gubernatorial candidate Chadchart Sittipunt, a popular former transport minister, said the government must commit to strengthening traffic safety.
Chadchart also looked to Japan as a model.
“[We should] extend the crosswalks and paint them with vivid colors, not covered with blotches, like Japan does, so that motorists can see pedestrians who cross the road from a distance,” Chadchart said.
Then he pivoted to that favorite tool of passive law enforcement: the camera.
“CCTV cameras should be installed to punish those officers who do not stop or slow down for pedestrians as well,” Chadchart added.