Thai govt told to meet monks’ terms or face more rallies

Thai govt told to meet monks’ terms or face more rallies
PHRA Thepwisutthikavi, president of the Buddhism Protection Centre of Thailand, said he had called on Constitution Drafting Committee chairman Meechai Ruchupan to give Buddhism status as the national religion in the new charter.
PHOTO: The Nation

PHRA Thepwisutthikavi, president of the Buddhism Protection Centre of Thailand, has said the Buddha Monthon incident last week that saw monks and soldiers involved in an ugly clash would not happen again

They include state agencies refraining from intervening in Sangha matters; Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha nominating the acting Supreme Patriarch and Wat Paknam abbot, Somdej Chuang, as Supreme Patriarch; and Buddhism being made the national religion.

Phra Thepwisutthikavi said he had called on Constitution Drafting Committee chairman Meechai Ruchupan to give Buddhism status as the national religion in the new charter.

That did not happen in the first draft of the charter, and Phra Thepwisutthikavi said he would instruct Buddhists to vote against the draft if that was not rectified in the final draft.

He said Thai Buddhism had been weakened in all aspects including its administration and its propagation, unlike other religions that had concrete centres and operated systematically.

He said social trends had also contributed to the weakening of Buddhism in Thailand, such as objections to Buddhist prayer at schools.

This meant Buddhism's hierarchy must find new ways to promote the religion, such as virtue preaching.

Amnart Buasiri, former chief of the Office of National Buddhism, said the office still had no clear reform plan while Buddha borisat (Buddhist communities) were not strong and state agencies' Buddhist aspects were done out of a sense of duty, not faith.

Wat Rama 9 Kanchanapisek assistant abbot Phra Ratchayanakavi said the Sangha Supreme Council (SSC) must be reformed to suit the modern age.

However, he said key Buddhists should table their points of concern with the SSC rather than talk to the media.

He said linking Somdej Chuang to the illegal classic Mercedes-Benz scandal and the controversial Wat Phra Dhammakaya aimed to tarnish his reputation and prevent him from heading the SSC.

Phra Thepwisutthikavi said the SSC would discuss any disagreements and reach solutions internally.

He said as a deputy prime minister had offered to mediate in the dispute, the monk group continuing to stir things up should stop doing so - or at least refrain from using the media and state offices to try and gain an advantage.

The senior monks spoke at a Nakhon Pathom seminar on the direction of Buddhism and the current situation the faith faces. The event marked the Makha Bucha Festival.

Meanwhile, Department of Special Investigation chief Colonel Paisit Wongmuang said the agency would not impound the aforementioned Mercedes-Benz during the Makha Bucha holiday unless there was a request to have it seized.

He said that on Tuesday he would appoint a new team to interview Somdej Chuang about the car. The team would be led by Lt-Colonel Anurak Rojananirankij of the Office of Tax Litigation.

An informed source reported that the DSI would submit its findings on the car inquiry to the Customs Department on Friday so a tax assessment could be undertaken and a fine issued.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.

BRANDED CONTENT

SPONSORED CONTENT

Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.