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NRC panel focused on monks and money

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NRC panel focused on monks and money
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The chairman of the reform committee on the protection of Buddhism has said that the purpose of his committee is to seek an answer on whether monks can spend money, so that the matter can be regulated with sincerity.

“We are focusing on the case of Phra Dhammachayo, the abbot of Dhammakaya Temple, because there was a report indicating he has been involved with money matters, including the source of the money, that has been handled without transparency,” Paiboon Nititawan told The Nation.

Mr Paiboon, whose committee was set up earlier by the National Reform Council (NRC), sparked uproar when he said at a recent meeting of the committee that according to a 1999 statement by the then-Supreme Patriarch that Phra Dhammachayo had been automatically defrocked.

This created tension between the NRC panel, the monk and Buddhist groups.

Dhammakaya Temple is believed to be the wealthiest temple in Thailand, but some Buddhists view it as a temple that has distorted Lord Buddha’s teachings in relation to money matters.

“Our goal is to protect religion by scrutinizing the temple’s budget or financial status, with Dhammakaya Temple the main case study we have to look into,” Mr Paiboon said.

He said that the study’s findings could result in the public realizing what the real problems were and how they could be regulated.

He said that along with investigating whether monks could spend money, his panel wanted to determine if monks can collected money whether or not they are allowed to spend it.

If they are, it needed to be determined how much they could collect and whether they had to declare assets like non-monks.

“All these questions have been frequently asked by many people, and if the monks can use and collect money do they have to pay taxes too?” Mr Paiboon said.

Mr Paiboon said another legal question that needed answered involved a dead person’s assets being transferred to an entity.

When a monk dies it needs to be determined if the money should be transferred to the monk’s temple or elsewhere, he said.

Also, if a monk transferred money before he died, can an entity that gets the money spend it anywhere or only within the religious realm?

The chairman also said some observers had suggested that monks could not hold money themselves. If they received money it must be registered under the temple in the form of a cooperative or credit union.

However, if a monk wanted to spend money, it must come from his share of temple money and could only be used for religious matters. “Our religious principles state that monks should be prohibited from greed and desire, with [obtaining] money or property [for personal use] prohibited under the Buddhism religion,” Mr Paiboon said.

Another panel member Mano Laohavanich, who was a monk at Dhammakaya for more than 20 years, said that he left the temple because its ideology had shifted and it was in essence a business corporation in the form of a temple.

According to the Tripitaka, the main Buddhist teaching, there are reasons why a monk cannot have and spend money, Mr Mano insisted.

Mr Paiboon said that there were many recent cases in which individuals including monks had used religion as an agency for their own benefit.

Furthermore, he said Buddhism’s teachings, principles and practices had been eroded, resulting in many Buddhists losing faith.

“If we do not prevent this issue from happening again, or find a method to reform religious measures, it will lead to bigger problems later which will affect the whole religion,” he said.

In another blow to the standing of the faith, a monk named Luang Pu Nenkham was charged with rape and embezzlement two years ago.

Mr Paiboon pointed out that the reform process now underway had yet to study and scrutinize the main issues Buddhism faces and how to solve them. When that was done, it could see a strengthening of existing laws governing religion and the drafting of new laws.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Economy

Officials not worried Thailand remains on US currency watch list

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Officials not worried Thailand remains on US currency watch list | Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand is on the watch list for possible currency manipulation.

Thailand remains on the United States Treasury’s “Monitoring List” of countries whose currency trade practices need to be watched, though Thai officials say they are not worried. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen releases a foreign exchange report twice a year including labelling alleged currency manipulators and flagging suspect trading partner countries to be monitored. The Bank of Thailand said remaining on the US currency watch list poses no threat to Thai businesses or the government’s ability to enact policies to promote financial stability. They stress that Thailand has never manipulated currency, using the exchange rate to get a competitive edge or an unfair trade advantage over other countries.

This most recent report tags 11 countries as warranting a closer watch: China, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand. Mexico and Ireland were the 2 new inclusions, not on the previous report in December 2020. Also in the report, the US Treasury Department toed the line of accusing Switzerland, Taiwan, and Vietnam of manipulating currency. They stated yesterday that the 3 countries had crossed the line of 2015 US trade laws, but didn’t officially brand them as currency manipulators. The thresholds of that 2015 rule include either global current account surplus or foreign currency intervention over 2% of GDP, and having a trade surplus with the US over US $20 billion trade.

The flagging of Taiwan, Vientman and Switzerland falls short of applying the manipulator label due to a 1988 law requiring evidence of manipulation to stop balance of payment adjustments or to gain a trade advantage. The US is already engaged in talks with Vietnam and Switzerland and will enter into “enhanced engagement” with Taiwan as well. Not being upgraded to the manipulator title relieves pressure from Switzerland and Vietnam, who both received the label in the last report issued by the Trump administration.

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance and Live Mint

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai Hotel Association pushes “hospitels” – hotels as hospitals

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Thai Hotel Association pushes “hospitels” – hotels as hospitals | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Artist rendering of a "hospitel" - a hotel converted to a hospital.

With the third wave of Covid-19 ripping through Thailand, hospitals are rapidly filling up and the Thai Hotels Association has proposed “hospitels” as a creative solution. The portmanteau of “hospital” and “hotel” is the THA’s brainchild for creating more space for the growing number of Covid-19 infections that require treatment or at least observation as Thailand hits record daily case numbers. The idea of turning hotels into temporary hospitals was promoted by association president Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi this week.

“The move aims to reduce crowdedness at hospitals and promote continuous care for Covid-19 patients after new cases increased rapidly since late March.”

23 hotels have already registered to be hospitals, with 2,000 patients currently receiving treatment in the 4,900 available beds. The Ministry of Public Health laid out guidelines for hotels interested in participating. Hotels must have a minimum of 30 rooms and pass the alternative state quarantine evaluation. The ASQ-approved properties must have evidence of acknowledgement by the surrounding community to confirm their validity and eligibility. The hotel must be able and willing to take care of hospitalised patients for 5 to 7 days, even with no signs of symptom progression. Conversely, patients checking in must agree to stay in the hotel and be relatively self-sufficient.

Strict medical requirements must be met as well. Each patient must be provided with their own digital thermometer and pulse oximeter, and a portable x-ray machine must be available. The hotels must be staffed like hospitals, with at least one doctor, a clinical psychologist, a pharmacist, a radiologist, and an infection control nurse. There must also be one nurse per every 20 patients staying at the property.

This proposed solution might provide a welcomed supplement to the rudimentary field hospitals the Thai army has been hastily building to accommodate the influx of newly infected patients. While the quick work is commendable, some have hypothesized that at-risk foreigners may be ignoring calls to come forward for Covid-19 testing in part because being diagnosed may land them in these less-than-posh field hospitals for days on end. A more comfortable “hospitel” would allow infected foreigners to be treated in more pleasant surroundings thus encouraging them to come forward for testing.

SOURCE: National News Bureau and Nation Thailand

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE: 1,547 new infections, restrictions start after midnight tonight

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Covid UPDATE: 1,547 new infections, restrictions start after midnight tonight | Thaiger

Today the CCSA has announced that there are 1,547 new infections around Thailand, a slight drop from yesterdays’ 1,585 reported new cases. Today’s additional infections takes the total number in Thailand to 40,585 since the start of the pandemic. We will add to this story when more figures and provincial totals become available.

All but 3 of today’s newly reported infections were local – 1,544.

Bangkok – 279

Chiang Mai – 140

Chon Buri – 99 (155 cases were reported by Chon Buri officials this morning which will go into tomorrow’s national totals)

Prachuap Khiri Khan – 58

Samut Prakan – 27

All other provinces listed here…

Covid UPDATE: 1,547 new infections, restrictions start after midnight tonight | News by ThaigerTe CCSA reports that 11,916 people are still under care and supervision in Thai hospitals or field hospital facilities. 99 people have died, a local death rate of 0.24%.

Covid UPDATE: 1,547 new infections, restrictions start after midnight tonight | News by ThaigerAt midnight tonight new restrictions come into force for red and orange zone provinces. Here’s a list of the red zone provinces.

1. Bangkok
2. Chiang Mai
3. Chon Buri
4. Samut Prakan
5. Prachuap Khiri Kan
6. Samut Sakhon
7. Pathum Thani
8. Nakhon Pathom
9. Phuket
10. Nakhon Ratchasima
11. Nonthaburi
12. Songkhla
13. Tak
14. Udon Thani
15. Suphanburi
16. Sa Kaeo
17. Rayong
18. Khon Kaen

FULL LIST OF PRECAUTIONS (starting at 1 minute past midnight Sunday, April 18)

Across all provinces…

• Closures of schools, all nightlife venues, pubs and clubs, karaoke bars and massage parlours

(except for international schools running exams)

• No events can have more than 50 people

Provincial red zones (listed below)…

• Dining-in allowed until 9pm (but can do takeaway until 11pm)

• Serving of alcohol banned

• Shopping centres and fitness centres to be closed by 9pm

(Sporting fields, exercise places, gyms and fitness clubs must close at 9pm)

• Convenience stores, markets, supermarkets must be closed by 11pm

Everywhere else…

• Dining-in allowed until 11pm

• Serving of alcohol banned

• Shopping centres to be closed by 9pm

Additionally, people are being discouraged from traveling to “Red Zone” provinces. Businesses are also being ‘asked’ to allow staff to work from home or introduce other measures to minimise risk of infection at the workplace. These workplace and travel ‘advisories’ will certainly be ramped up if the number of daily cases continue to rise.

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