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Phuket Big Buddha donations to continue

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: The foundation constructing Phuket’s Big Buddha image will continue to collect donations for the project, the Phuket Gazette has learned.

The news follows a provincial committee ruling that the Mingmongkol Faith 45 Foundation was no longer allowed to advertise or publicly solicit donations for the project.

The committee ruling stated that the organization will be allowed to receive donations only at the project site, high in the hills above Chalong.

The ruling also stipulated that the foundation was to hand over the responsibility for physically receiving donations to monks from Wat Kata, the temple that commissioned the giant image.

However, Kwanchai Semathong, manager of the Big Buddha project, told the Gazette that the foundation will continue handling donations made through their collection boxes throughout Phuket.

“We will also keep our collection boxes at the major shopping centers, too,” he said.

Mr Kwanchai said the foundation needs at least five more years to complete the base of the monument, which will conclude the construction of the entire image.

“But the current permit from the Forestry Department expires on September 30. We will need another five-year extension to complete the project.

“We also want to build a Buddhism learning center near the car park during the same time,” he said.

Mr Kwanchai confirmed that the royal insignia of Rama V had been removed from the rock beside the statue of Thailand’s historical monarch, both of which were ordered removed as per the committee’s ruling.

However, while Mr Kwanchai said the foundation was looking for an appropriate alternative site for the statue, he added that the foundation was also compiling documents in order to file an application for the Fine Arts Department to issue a permit that would allow the statue to remain on site.

“We would like to place the statue in the Buddhism learning center [that has yet to be built],” he said.

The statue was donated by a benefactor in Bangkok, whom he declined to name.

— Pimwara Choksakulpan

 

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