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Buddhist group calls for Pongporn to quit over case of monks’ alleged fraud

Apr 24. 2018
File photo:  Pol Lt-Colonel Pongporn Parmsneh
File photo: Pol Lt-Colonel Pongporn Parmsneh
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By The Nation

A GROUP of Buddhists has demanded the dismissal of National Buddhism Office’s director Pol Lt-Colonel Pongporn Parmsneh after he pursued legal proceedings against five senior monks over alleged embezzlement of state funds for temples.

“The head of the office has the duty to serve as the secretary to the clergy. It’s not his duty to take action against clergymen,” Charoon Wonnakasinanont said yesterday on behalf of the Network of Buddhists for the Nation’s Power. 

He said he would submit a petition to Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, asking him to remove Pongporn from the helm of the National Buddhism Office (NBO).

Charoon also called on Pol Maj-General Kamol Rienracha, who heads the police force’s Counter Corruption Division, to take legal action against Pongporn for alleged abuse of authority. 

Last week, it was reported that the NBO would sue five senior monks – including three members of the Sangha Supreme Council – for their role in the alleged embezzlement of state funds for temples. 

“The allegations against the monks will damage the reputation of the Buddhist clergy. These allegations have threatened one of Thailand’s key institutions,” Charoon said. 

He said it was the duty of the Office of the Auditor-General to investigate the use of state funds, not the NBO.

Charoon said he would also file a complaint against Pongporn with the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission. 

“I will give relevant authorities one month to take action. If they do nothing by that time, my network will consider taking further moves,” he said. 

Winai Sawekwi, from the same network, said laymen did not have the power to rule over monks. 

According to him, the ecclesiastical sector had its own rule and law, namely Dhammavinaya, to handle offenders. “If a monk does wrong, file a complaint with the ruling clergy,” he said.

Winai said his network had to defend the accused monks because the clergymen were not well versed in laws. 

He said the NBO should focus its attention on the state officials who offered money to monks. 

“State officials submitted money to monks and then asked for some portions back. Why would you blame the monks?” he said. 

He said monks across the country were now worried that they would be in trouble just because they received money from the NBO. 

Kamol said he would look into the network’s complaints. 

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