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VIDEO REPORT: Officials confirm high-flying monk not on Buddhist business

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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VIDEO REPORT: Officials confirm high-flying monk not on Buddhist business | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: If renowned monk Luang Pu Nenkham is in Phuket, it is not on temple business, the Phuket Gazette confirmed yesterday.

Luang Pu Nenkham is wanted for questioning after being filmed on board a private jet while sporting brand-name sunglasses and a Louis Vuitton bag.



Chatpawit Jinapong, Director of the Phuket branch of the National Office of Buddhism, told the Gazette that he must be notified of any high-ranking monks visiting the island.

“I must be informed of any high-ranking or well-known monks coming to Phuket… Unless they come on private business,” said Mr Chatpawit.

“I know Luang Pu Nenkham. He is famous, as we have seen in the Thai media recently. I have heard that he has a lot of wealthy followers. Nonetheless, I have yet to be informed of him coming to Phuket,” he said.

Officials at Phuket International Airport said they could not confirm whether or not Luang Pu Nenkham was on the island.

“We can confirm which aircraft, including private jets, have landed on and departed from Phuket, but we cannot release the names of any people on the flight manifests,” one officer said.

Followers of Luang Pu Nenkham denied on Thursday all allegations against their revered spiritual leader, including a picture allegedly showing him lying next to a woman.

“The picture is doctored,” said disciple Pattaradej Sopongpanich, who also countered that there was nothing wrong with Luang Pu Nenkham riding in a private jet, given that someone else had arranged the trip for him.

“He was invited to carry out rites in Phuket, that’s why he was on the jet,” said Mr Pattaradej.

Luang Pu Nenkham had the expensive Louis Vuitton bag, said Mr Pattaradej, because followers had given it to him.

Commenting on the huge donations Luang Pu Nenkham had received, Mr Pattaradej said the board of Wat Pa Khantitham, where the monk serves as abbot, had kept records of all the donations and how they had been put to use.

“The donations are used for good causes, like helping people in need,” he said.

Nonetheless, Si Sa Ket Buddhism Office’s director Virod Chaiyaphannana said he was verbally instructed to investigate all financial transactions to and from Wat Pa Khantitham.

“I will see what can be done in line with the law,” he said.

Additional reporting by The Nation

— Chutharat Plerin

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

Phuket

Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund

Maya Taylor

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Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sri Panwa Phuket Resort - Sri Panwa Phuket

The Social Security Office, a department under the direction of Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, is being asked to explain its investment in the trust fund of Phuket’s Sri Panwa Phuket Resort. The demand comes as members of the opposition and political activists call for an investigation into the property’s land rights. The owner of Sri Panwa Phuket, Vorasit Issara, has been condemned online recently, with his property attracting multiple negative reviews, after he criticised anti-government protest leader, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.

Thai PBS World reports that the Civil Society for State Welfare is calling on the SSO to clarify its investment in the Sri Panwa Hospitality Real Estate Investment Trust, thought to be worth around 500 million baht. Nimit Thian-udom says that, while the SSO’s investment does not break any laws, the board must explain the reasons behind the investment decision and clarify the return on that investment. In addition, he says the SSO should attach more importance to good governance when choosing where to invest.

The call for clarity is echoed by opposition MP Chirayu Huangsap, from the Pheu Thai Party, who calls on the Labour Minister to explain the investment. He adds that any discrepancies will be reported to both the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission.

The land rights of the luxury Sri Panwa Phuket resort, which sits on prime land atop Phuket’s Cape Panwa, overlooking the south-eastern tip of the island, are also being called into question. Veera Somkwamkid, from the People’s Network Against Corruption, says he is looking into the property’s land rights and will pass his findings to the Department of Special Investigations.

For his part, the Labour Minister, Somsak Thepsuthin, says he doesn’t know if the property has been legally built, saying it’s up to the DSI to investigate and that a complaint does not need to be filed in order for them to do so.

Meanwhile, review site Tripadvisor has had to suspend reviews for the Sri Panwa resort, as anti-government netizens exact their revenge on the proprietor by posting negative feedback on the property.

“Due to a recent event that has attracted media attention and has caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended publishing new reviews for this listing.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Thailand

Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chachoengsao join UNESCO’s learning cities

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chachoengsao join UNESCO’s learning cities | The Thaiger
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3 cities in Thailand recently joined UNESCO’s membership of so called “learning cities” which are said to promote “lifelong learning” and sustainable development. Chachoengsao, Chiang Mai and Phuket joined the UNESCO’s Global Network of Learning Cities. Altogether, 55 cities from 27 countries, adding up to 230 cities in 64 countries around the world, according to UNESCO.

“These cities are outstanding examples of how lifelong learning can become a reality at local level. They have proven that effective lifelong learning policies and practices can support the development of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and contribute to the 2030 Agenda.”

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning David Atchoarena says the recent new members have shown that they can make “lifelong learning a reality,” even after enduring the pandemic.

“With unprecedented urgency, the Covid-19-19 pandemic has underlined the necessity to build more resilient education systems for the future. With more than half of humanity living in urban areas, cities must be at the centre of this undertaking.”

David says he hopes it will inspire other cities in Thailand to follow.

“I very much hope that we will see many other cities from Thailand joining the network and working on providing lifelong learning opportunities for all to ensure a sustainable and peaceful future.”

The mayor of Chachoengsao, Kolayuth Chaisang, says his goal is to provide “effective education, thoroughly and equally to all citizens.” According to the Bangkok Post, the city is a key urban centre both economically and culturally.

The mayor of Chiang Mai, Tussanai Buranupakorn, says he wants to revitalise the city, while also maintaining the cultural significance. The city has a number of educational institutes, which goes along with UNESCO’s learning city principles.

Phuket is a hub of sustainable creativity, according to the Bangkok Post. The mayor of Phuket, Somjai Suwansupana, says he wants to preserve the city’s “identity, local wisdom assets and the charm of our multiculturalism.”

SOURCES: UNESCO |Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Newborn baby found on bench in Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Newborn baby found on bench in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siangtai/Newshawk Phuket

A newborn baby was found on a bench at a neighborhood by Phuket’s Patong Road. The baby boy was wrapped in cloth and left inside a reusable shopping bag. The bag also had a bottle of milk, diapers and clothing.

A woman walking by early in the morning heard the baby crying. She followed the cries and found the baby on the bench. She called police and calmed the baby, feeding him milk that was left in the bag.

Police took the baby to the Patong Hospital. The baby, about a week old, is in good health, police say.

“Police and rescue workers together rushed to the scene and called Patong Hospital to have a medical team meet us there … This baby is healthy and does not appear to have suffered any injuries. He is now safe and being cared for at Patong Hospital.”

Police are reviewing surveillance camera footage to see if they can track down the mother, or whoever left the baby behind.

Newborn baby found on bench in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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