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Wat Phra Dhammakaya Temple, Thailand, Wikimedia

Thailand, March 10, 2017: It will soon be proposed by the Cabinet that the Supreme Sangha Council and the National Office of Buddhism (NOB) speed up reforms in Buddhism using the example of the Dhammakaya Temple case; Justice Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana revealed on Thursday.

Three senior monks have already been assigned by the council to join a reform panel.

Suwaphan also added that the decision whether to disrobe the fugitive former abbot Phra Dhammachayo lies at the discretion of ecclesiastical administrators.

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

He also added that the prosecution of monks should be carried out as an inquiry where the judge has the authority to look for 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 layman laws and the Phra Dhamma Vinaya discipline. Such an inquiry, with the participation of monks, should take place at a temple to preserve the monks’ status, he said to The Nation.

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

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

Suwaphan stated that he would not rush the search of the temple by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI). He said the monks and disciples seemed to have been incited to assume the officers would demolish or mishandle the temple and its properties and seize assets, which was untrue. He said those executing incitement activities should stop.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Kreangam said a complaint has already lodged by the NOB for senior monks to proceed with disciplinary action against Dhammachayo. He said the Sangha Supreme Council’s meeting tomorrow, which the NOB chief would be present in his capacity as the council secretary, might table the Dhammakaya case.

Even though the temple has been declared a special controlled area and Phra Dhammachayo’s monastic rank has been removed, the temple’s resistance continued. So it was necessary for the government to find more solutions, he added.

DSI spokesman Pol Colonel Songsak Raksaksakul said that future action regarding this matter will soon be decided by the agency and clear progress in the temple search can be expected this week.

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Out of the 14 Dhammakaya monks summoned by the DSI, six who had turned up 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 alleged violation of the junta order.

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

According to the report of “The Nation”, 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 after the DSI’s threat to arrest him on sight for failing to respond to summons.

Dhammakaya monk Phra Palat Seksan Attathamo, who allegedly led crowds that gathered at the Klong Luang Central Market, was released yesterday on a bail of Bt200,000 after being brought to the Thanyaburi court to plead for a detention order. The bail was allowed on condition that he would stay away from making statements of incitement or grant interviews, and will not enter the controlled premise declared under a junta order.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang


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