Sangha Supreme CouncIl's Phanom contradIcts earlIer report that body ruled In favour of Dhammachayo
THE SANGHA Supreme Council did not issue a resolution on the Dhammakaya Temple’s abbot Phra Dhammachayo at its meeting last Friday, according to SSC secretary general Phanom Sonsill.
Phanom’s comments appear to contradict what SSC spokesperson Phra Phrom Methi said after the Friday meeting.
Phra Phrom Methi was quoted as stating that the SSC had passed a resolution in favour of Phra Dhammachayo.
“I was present at the SSC meeting on Friday and did not see it issue any resolution on Phra Dhammachayo,” Phanom said yesterday.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said that Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-Ngam was looking into the matter.
Recent news reports stated that the SSC had ruled Phra Dhammachayo did not commit a grave sin warranting his defrocking.
Phanom, who also heads the National Office of Buddhism (NOB), said at the Friday meeting SSC secretariat director Somkiet Thongsree only presented the explanation on the council’s 2006 resolution related to the Dhammakaya Temple.
“He submitted this explanation to National Reform Council’s (NRC) committee on the reform for the protection of Buddhism, and presented it to the SSC meeting only for acknowledgement,” Phanom said.
He added that the SSC would report the facts to PM’s Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana. Suwaphan oversees the NOB.
In response to the backlash, particularly on social media, the NRC committee’s chairman Paiboon Nititawan yesterday said he disagreed with the SSC resolution that failed to conclude Phra Dhammachayo was no longer a monk.
He was referring to the resolution passed in 2006 as well as the |resolution he believed was passed last Friday.
The resolutions went against a 1999 resolution, he said.
He said the 1999 resolution supported the then-Supreme Patriarch’s written statement that could be insinuated to mean Phra Dhammachayo had lost his monkhood for embezzlement because he failed to immediately return the embezzled properties to their rightful owners.
Also, the Paiboon-chaired committee yesterday summoned the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) to provide information on the case in which the Dhammakaya Temple, Phra Dhammachayo and related persons took more than Bt829million in donations from Credit Union’s former manager Supachai Srisuppaaksorn.
Supachai was accused of embezzling more than Bt12billion from the credit union.
“We need to check the financial flow,” Paiboon said.
He said his committee believed the Amlo should confiscate the money channelled from the credit union so that victims of the embezzlement could at least get some money back.
Paiboon added that his committee would meet with representatives of the National Legislative Assembly, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), and the SSC next Tuesday.
He said his committee wanted the DSI to explain why it decided not to pursue a case against Phra Dhammachayo over the embezzlement related to the credit union.
Paiboon said his committee had no intention as yet to act on a request by the Or Noi Temple’s abbot, Phra Buddha Isara, tto investigate SSC assets.
“But we will definitely work on the guidelines on the overall management of temple properties,” Paiboon said.
Phra Buddha Isara yesterday met with Paiboon and various other parties.
He lodged a complaint with the prime minister via PM’s Office Minister Panadda Disakul, seeking an examination on the assets of all SSC members, the Dhammakaya Temple and Phra Dhammachayo.
His seven requests included a demand that the spending of the Council and the temple be scrutinised thoroughly.
He claimed he had learnt some monks had travelled by chartered flights to Las Vegas, the United States, Italy and France for observation trips.
“I want to know what kind of observation they did in those countries,” he said.
He also said the prosecutors’ decision to not indict Dhammachayo should be reviewed by the Department of Special Investigation urgently.
Panadda told reporters he would forward Phra Buddha Isara’s complaint to the prime minister.