Connect with us


Questions raised over Phuket’s Big Buddha

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: The management of Phuket’s renowned Big Buddha image has come under scrutiny for slow progress and alleged misuse of land and donated funds.

After more than nine years of construction, land officials are now demanding “a clear deadline” as to when construction at the site, high atop a hill in the Nakkerd Range, will finally come to an end.

In a meeting presided over by Phuket Vice Governor Somkiet Sangkaosutthirak at Provincial Hall, land officials concluded they will issue a demand for clarification from the Mingmongkol Faith 45 Foundation, set up a decade ago to build the giant structure.

The foundation must pull down all unauthorized buildings at the site that are not directly related to authorized construction, said Phoppol Sirilugsanapong, head of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment office in Phuket.

Buildings that would need to be dismantled include kuti (sleeping quarters for monks) and a large hall used to sell souvenirs such as Buddhist amulets, stage dhamma talks and offer visitors numerous ways to “make merit”, Mr Phoppol said.

The foundation will also need to mark land-use boundaries, clearly delineate construction areas and set a definite completion date, he added.

Despite completion of the 45-meter-high image, the organization has yet to say when the work will end. And the complex is already beyond the scope specified under the terms of the contract, he said.

The initial contract period, from 2002 to 2006, was extended until the end of this year after the foundation said it needed more time to finish the work, he explained.

If they do not clarify the situation, any further requests for extension might be denied, Mr Phoppol said.

As founder of Mingmongkol Faith 45 Foundation, Suporn Vanitchakul’s responsibility was to build the Buddha image in the allotted time and nothing more, he added.

Instead, the foundation continues to seek donations through the sale of Buddhist souvenirs and erect large structures nearby.

“It’s unclear why it is taking so long to finish the project,” Mr Phoppol told the committee.

Tritip Sakulpradit, an officer at the Muang District Office, said he will examine the foundation’s donation account.

“It will not be easy. The foundation has consistently sought postponement when we request information,” he said.

Mr Suporn told the Phuket Gazette, “We already have a clear design of what we are building on the 42-rai plot of land. Actually, we are only building on about 32 rai. The rest is for car parking and reforestation,” he said.

“Since the budget to build the Big Buddha comes from donations, we can’t set an exact time when the image will be finished,” he said.

“We held a meeting among foundation members and agreed to fight for what is right,” he added.

He had yet to receive any official requests to demolish structures at the site, he said.

“The kuti is for temporary accommodation of visiting clergy and proceeds from the sale of souvenirs are to fund construction of the Big Buddha,” he said.

“Officials can give me their official letters, then we will see what we can do,” he added.

Mr Suporn told the Gazette earlier that he would welcome any audit of the foundation’s finances.

The foundation raised over 200 million baht to fund construction of the image and related structures, including the winding road that provides access to the site.

“Meanwhile there are many expenses, such as paying over 100 laborers,” he said.

Most of the heavy labor at the site, including affixing marble sheets to complete the image’s exterior, was carried out by Burmese workers.

V/Gov Somkiet urged local officials to move on the case.

“If they can’t sort it out themselves, they can ask the provincial office for assistance, he said.

— Atchaa Khamlo


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Expats9 hours ago

List: China has over 50% of all foreign-owned condos in Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)11 hours ago

Government plans 10 million vaccines for July

World14 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Vaccine deaths investigation, PM heads to Phuket, BMA extends vendor licences | June 18

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Sponsored by image

Thailand15 hours ago

1 million AstraZeneca doses arrive, Anutin says “more” on the way

Drugs15 hours ago

1.2 tonnes of methamphetamine and heroin seized near Malaysian border

Coronavirus (Covid-19)15 hours ago

Pattaya bars plead for government help

Thailand16 hours ago

Colour-coded zoning revised, restrictions to ease nationwide

Transport16 hours ago

Department of Land Transport will reopen, issue licenses

Best of16 hours ago

Top 8 Things to do in Chiang Mai

Tourism17 hours ago

Krabi schedules 82 flights per week from late October

Best of17 hours ago

Top 6 Online Forums in Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)17 hours ago

Friday Covid Update: 3,058 new cases; provincial totals

Thailand17 hours ago

Worker falls off roof in Chon Buri, sustains multiple injuries

Phuket18 hours ago

Talad Kaset market in Phuket reopens

Coronavirus (Covid-19)18 hours ago

PM Prayut tests negative after parliament maid has Covid-19

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8