• Crowd-control officers face Dhammakaya Temple supporters with metal fences separating them at Pathum Thani

Cabinet to seek quick reforms of Buddhism

national March 09, 2017 01:00

By THE NATION

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Dhammakaya supporters say monks must have control in trials to defrock clergy.



USING THE Dhammakaya Temple case as an example, the Cabinet will soon propose that the Supreme Sangha Council and the National Office of Buddhism (NOB) speed up reforms in Buddhism, Justice Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvard-hanarevealed yesterday.

The council has already assigned three senior monks to join a reform panel. 

Suwaphan also said the decision whether to disrobe the fugitive former abbot Phra Dhammachayo was at the discretion of ecclesiastical administrators.

Meanwhile, Dhammakaya communications officer, Phra Maha Nopporn Punyachayo, told a press conference yesterday that “it’s time to cancel the reckless laws that destroy Buddhism and kill monks”. He urged authorities not to have monks disrobed if the cases against them were not yet finalised. 

He said the prosecution of monks should be done as an inquiry where the judge is authorised to find more facts and evidence besides those presented by the prosecutor and the defendant. 

A Sangha Court should be established to handle such cases based on both the Phra Dhamma Vinaya discipline and layman laws. Such an inquiry, with the participation of monks, should be done at a temple to preserve the monks’ status, he said. 

Buddhist organisations from across the world should be invited to observe a major case like Phra Dhammachayo’s, Phra Maha Nopporn suggested.

Phra Channarong Uttamo, of the temple, said monk ordination was a rebirth into Buddhism and the disrobing was the killing of a monk. He said Thai laws were discriminatory and unfair towards monks because they would be defrocked if they were suspects in a criminal case, even if the case had not been finalised.

Suwaphan said he would not rush the Department of Special Investigation (DSI)’s search of the temple. He said the monks and disciples seemed to have been incited to assume the officers would destroy the temple and seize assets, which was untrue. He said those carrying out incitement activities should stop.

Suwaphan said he would not rush the Department of Special Investigation (DSI)’s search of the temple. He said the monks and disciples seemed to have been incited to assume the officers would destroy the temple and seize assets, which was untrue. He said those carrying out incitement activities should stop. 

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Kreangam said the NOB has already filed a complaint for senior monks to proceed with disciplinary action against Dhammachayo. 

He said the Sangha Supreme Council’s meeting tomorrow, which the NOB chief would attend in his capacity as the council secretary, might table the Dhammakaya case. 

While the temple has been declared a special controlled area and Phra Dhammachayo’s monastic rank has been removed, the temple’s resistance continued, so the government needed to find more solutions, he added.

DSI spokesman Pol Colonel Songsak Raksaksakul said the agency would decide on future action soon and there would be clear progress in the temple search this week. 

Out of the 14 Dhammakaya monks whom the DSI had summoned, six had turned up. They are: Phra Khru Thawalsak Yatisako, Phra Maha Somchai Thanawutthito, Phra Maha Nopporn Punyachayo, Phra Saenpol Thepthepa, Phra Pasura Dantamano, and Phra Khru Sangkharak Sotathiko. 

The DSI will also summon another 70 individuals for allegedly violating the junta order, he said. 

Police deputy spokesman Pol Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen said police was proceeding with 340 cases against Dhammakaya, 20 of which involved warrants issued for suspects.

Dhammakaya communications chief Phra Sanitwong Chareonrattawong will surrender himself to the DSI today, after an arrest warrant was issued for him yesterday. The monk had been out of the public eye following the DSI’s threat to arrest him on sight for failing to respond to a summons.

Dhammakaya monk Phra Palat Seksan Attathamo, who allegedly led crowds gathering at the Klong Luang Central Market, was released on a bail of Bt200,000 yesterday afternoon after being brought to the Thanyaburi court to apply for a detention order.

The bail was granted on condition that he would refrain from making statements of incitement or grant interviews, and will not enter the controlled area declared under a junta order.

 

Dhammakaya communications chief Phra Sanitwong Chareonratta-wong will surrender himself to the DSI today, after an arrest warrant was issued for him yesterday. The monk had been out of the public eye following the DSI’s threat to arrest him on sight for failing to respond to a summons.

Dhammakaya monk Phra Palat Seksan Attathamo, who allegedly led crowds gathering at the Klong Luang Central Market, was released on a bail of Bt200,000 yesterday afternoon after being brought to the Thanyaburi court to apply for a detention order. 

The bail was granted on condition that he would refrain from making statements of incitement or grant interviews, and will not enter the controlled area declared under a junta order. 

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