A life of a forensic pathologist
Most people recognize Khunying Pornthip Rojanasunan by her unique hair and
fashion style; however, her life is much more interesting than her appearance. For more than
twenty years, she has been working as a forensic pathologist, a specially trained physician
who examines dead bodies by finding the cause of death. She currently holds the position of
director at the Central Institute of Forensic Science Thailand (CIFS); the institute that is
responsible for scientific and medical evidence investigation to support legal cases.
How did you start working in the field of forensic science, was forensic pathology your
Actually, I had no dream career. It could be anything that related to science. But if
you asked what I really liked, I liked art and I wanted to be an interior designer. However, at
that time, I was a straight A student, so I chose to study medicine. After I entered medical
school, I still wanted to be independent, so I decided to major in forensic science. This was
not because I liked it but because it was the field that was compatible with my happiness and
As a director of CIFS, can you describe the organization’s goals?
In the past, there was no official organization that was responsible for forensic
science. Therefore, there was no standard in which forensic pathologists could follow. After
receiving this position, I want to have a chance to solve problems related to justice system,
especially in the forensic science investigation, and to administer an organization that is
neutral and that the public can trust.
Have you ever faced with any supernatural phenomenon during your career?
Not in the form of spirits of death, but it felt like there was a hidden force kept
pushing me forward. Every time I came to a dead end in cases, there was something that
helped me found the way to close the cases. Besides, I believe that there is always a
supernatural and sacred power that protects a person who has determination and faith in
doing good things.
After working as a forensic pathologist for many years, do you think that you have
accomplished your career path?
I don’t know that I have accomplished my career path or not. However, after
receiving the honorable title, ‘Khunying,’ from H.M.K. Bhumibol Adulyadej, I feel more
confident in myself that if I walk on the path of the Buddhism precepts, do my best, and have
strong determination toward this country, I will be successful and be proud of myself.
What are your views toward forensic science in the present day?
Firstly, most of the forensic science officers are neither doing their jobs with love and
faith nor understanding; they lack motivation. In this age of materialism, a lot of people seek
only benefits out of their jobs. They don’t value what they do. In contrast, forensic science
has intangible value, which is why it doesn’t get much attention from many sectors.
Nevertheless, I think it’s challenging because it becomes a strong motivation for me to pursue
my work without concerning about money or reputation, and to see how long I can survive in
Do you have anything to say to the authorities that are responsible for forensic science?
First, the main organizations that are responsible for forensic science: The Royal Thai
Police and Ministry of Public Health, should reconsider the current ideals and emphasize the
importance of forensic science in society. Mainly, I want them to seek the true reasons that
problems occur, not just try to find ways to solve the outcomes of those problems. Secondly,
the government, for the last ten years, has emphasized the need to solve the economic
situation but has failed to consider the need to improve the quality of lives. At present, many
politicians keep altering laws for their own benefits. Thus, I believe that the government
should be more careful with the action it chooses to take.
Does the political situation affect your career?
At first, I didn’t think that politics is related to my career; nevertheless, after working
for a while, I have found that the power of change is dependent on the political system not on
the government agency system. Therefore, it means that I have to improve the justice system
through the political system when I have a chance to do so.
What are your views toward the current political situation?
Thai politics has been created on a weak foundation. There are still many Thai
citizens that have poor education and thus, don’t realize the full role of politicians. They
simply see politicians as powerful people. The politicians, on the other hand, only seek to use
their positions for their own benefits and fail to make contribution to the country. If the
politicians would realize their potential and put their positions to good use, Thailand would
become a much better place. As I have seen today, there are only two people, Mr. Apisit
Vejjajiva and Mr. Chuan Leekpai, who understand and know how to use their power and
authority in the right way. Therefore, the current political situation is hard to solve and
develop since the two sides; the politicians and the public, have problems with each other.
Moreover, as we are now aware, the public are also separated into the yellow shirts and the
red shirts. Eventually, I think it depends on the fate of the country since the two sides cannot
seem to reach a mutual agreement.