PM’s Office minister refuses to address query whether accused should resign
THREE MEMBERS of the Sangha Supreme Council (SSC) are facing allegations of having embezzled state funds meant for Dhamma schools.
They are Phra Phromdilok, the abbot of Sam Phraya Temple; Phra Phrommedhi, an assistant abbot of Samphanthawongsaram Temple; and Phra Phromsitti, the abbot of Sa Ket Temple.
Also implicated in the scandal are two senior monks, Phra Medhisuttikorn and Phra Wijitdhammaporn. Both are assistant abbots of Sa Ket Temple.
“The National Buddhism Office [NBO] will take action against all those involved in line with laws and policies laid down by Prime Minister and National Council for Peace and Order chief General Prayut Chan-o-cha,” PM’s Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana said yesterday.
Earlier this month, the Cabinet approved anti-graft guidelines that prescribe quick action against officials accused of corruption.
According to Suwaphan, the NBO last September detected irregularities in the use of state funds for Dhamma schools and for the promotion of Buddhism.
The NBO urged the police to investigate.
Case with NACC
The investigation later suggested several state officials and temples might have been involved, prompting the Central Investigation Bureau to nudge the NBO to bring the case to the police force’s Counter Corruption Division.
That division has now forwarded the case to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
Suwaphan yesterday declined to comment when asked if the accused SSC members should step down in order to facilitate the ongoing |probe.
“The judicial process and the Sangha process are separate,” Suwaphan said.
He added that the SSC would very likely discuss the allegations and handle the scandal.
Asked about some senior monks’ comments that NBO director Pol Lt-Colonel Pongporn Parmsneh’s efforts to scrutinise temples and monks are hurting Buddhism, Suwaphan said, “I think everyone has one’s duty to do”.
On August 29 last year, Pongporn was transferred from helming the NBO to the post of inspector-general at the Office of the Prime Minister amid widespread rumours that his efforts to eradicate corruption at temples might have upset some high-ranking monks.
Pongporn fought the transfer order, which was endorsed by the Cabinet, until the Cabinet agreed |to reinstall him as the head of the NBO.