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Sangha council calls meeting to regulate temple affairs

The Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand held a meeting yesterday in its effort to regulate the temple business following the murder and burying of a novice monk at a respected temple in Nakhonn Si Thammarat.

The motive of the gruesome murder was pointed to the property renting business of the temple, Wat Wang Tawan Tok, which was said to be dominated by the temple's management committee in which a committee member was arrested for masterminding the murder.

The suspect murdered the novice monk at the time he was layman, and later ordained as a monk at the temple where the victim was buried and the burial was paved with cement. On top of the cement ground, a Buddha statute was placed to allow Buddhists to worship unaware of the slain body was hidden underneath. The accused monk was said to arrange the cement pavement to cover up the murder.

But at yesterday's meeting initiated by the National Office of Buddhism, a state regulator of Buddhism affairs, no regulatory measures were agreed regarding temple assets.

The meeting was chaired by the Supreme Patriarch Somdet Phra Ariyavongsagatayan.

However the Wat Wang Tawan Tok issue was not raised.

Earlier head of the Buddhism office planned to propose three regulatory measures for temple assets at the meeting.

The measures concern a standard accounting system, revenue and expense reports, and public access to temples' bank accounts.

According to the Buddhism office, 39,000 temples from a total of 40,758 nationwide have completed the mandatory asset reporting to the office.

Previously, it said only 180 temples doing so.

The data obtained from abbots of each temple is aimed at ensuring transparency in line with the 2015 resolution of the Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand.

However the Buddhism office is neither authorized to reveal the temples assets nor probe corrupt activities.

The Buddhism office is expected to raise the matter with the National Legislative Assembly ahead of the next meeting scheduled for June 20.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)