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Temple assets should be publicly revealed: panel

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Temple assets should be publicly revealed: panel
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Paiboon Nittawan, chairman of the National Reform Council’s committee on protecting Buddhism, said yesterday the NRC would consider the committee’s reform proposals tomorrow.

The committee studied the current state of Buddhism affairs and found four problems:

-Lack of audits or public disclosure of temple or monks’ assets, which tempted many monks into pursue personal gain rather than study and practice dharma;

-Cases of monks violating dharma winaya (discipline) possibly stemmed from administrative issues within the centralized Sangha Council, and caused the public to lose their faith;

-Some teachings and practices stray from the Lord Buddha’s dharma principles, such as those of Pathum Thani’s Dhammakaya Temple, which needs to be probed by a committee to cleanse the clergy of impure practices;

-Thai authorities need to do more to support and protect religious activities by arranging for a more dynamic Sangha administrative system.

The committee suggested drafting a law on the management of temple and monks’ assets to ensure that benefits of monastic activities go to the religion, not a person’s pocket, and allow monks and laymen to participate for transparency.

Another proposal from the Paiboon panel was for a civil law amendment to ensure that the assets that a monk accumulates during his monkhood passes to the temple.

It said the Sangha Council’s 24th regulation or the Sangha Council Act of 1962 should be amended to allow the decentralization of power and promote the participation of monks nationwide.

It also urged a mechanism to ensure adherence to dharma winaya and reform ecclesiastic education for monks so they are up-to-date and given importance.

Direk Thungfang, deputy chairman of another NRC committee, on political reform, said opponents of certain provisions in the draft charter would voice their opinions during an NRC seminar late this week in Pattaya. Among the issues to be raised are provisions allowing a non-MP to become prime minister, he said.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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