PHUKET: The instigator of a campaign to get a Bangkok-based academic to apologize for allegedly slandering the revered former abbot of Chalong, Luang Por Cham, has urged the academic to stay away from Phuket or risk injury at the hands of irate locals. Amnuay Koombarn, a member of the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization, is leading a petition to press Dr Poowadon Songprasert, a professor at Kasetsart University, to make his apology via the media instead of in person. “The local people may injure him if he comes here, so apologizing through the media is fine,” K. Amnuay said today. “We only want him to show regret for what he said. We want to do everything peacefully.” K. Amnuay said his group will continue to collect signatures from protestors, with the aim of amassing 10,000 more names before sending a second petition to the Governor of Phuket, Charnchai Soontharamut. A first, with 15,000 signatures, was delivered just over a week ago. “Last Tuesday, three people shaved their heads at Chalong Temple in protest at Dr Poowadon’s remarks,” said K. Amnuay. “If we fail to get a response from him, we will have to move to the next step which is to contact the deputy secretary of the Ministry of University Affairs. “Currently, we are in contact with Siwa Sangmanee, the deputy secretary of the Ministry of Interior, who is also from Phuket,” K Amnuay added. Dr Poowadon has been pilloried for remarks he made in an interview with Thaicoon magazine. He described Luang Por Cham, abbot of Wat Chalong at the turn of the last century, as “an example of dubious figures in Thailand” and as a “Phra Karn Muang”, or political monk. Thus far, there has been no response to the petition from either Dr Poowadon or the Ministry of University Affairs.
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