VoiceTV21's "Daily Dose": Potential Amendment to the Sangha Act

On a recent Daily Dose, the host, M.L. Natthakorn, takes on the topic of amending the Sangha Act. This potential modification centers specifically on Section 7 of the Sangha Act of 1962 - the nomination and assignment of the Supreme Patriarch. The modification will essentially transfer the power to nominate and select the Supreme Patriarch from the hands of the Supreme Sangha Council to that of the Prime Minister. The long term impact this alteration will have, in the eyes of Phra Meteedhammajarn, is colossal and irreparable.        

Voice TV21 Daily Dose, June 1, 2016. Thai language source: https://youtu.be/QiiSW0g3MvI 

The host of Daily Dose, M.L. Natthakorn:

As the drama about Wat Phra Dhammakaya and DSI’s case against Venerable Dhammajayo unfold, there is one particular circumstance that we need to thoroughly explore. First remove the misleading backdrop and set aside the drama between DSI and Wat Phra Dhammakaya.

There is another narrative - the nomination and appointment of the new supreme patriarch. Somdej Chuang is not going be appointed; so, then how are things really going to fall into place? The critical elements here are the power to nominate, the power to select, and the nomination process by the Prime Minister.

The part of securing HM the King’s signature is just a formality.

But everything depends on what the content of the law will be. If there are modifications to the law, then there may be a transfer of power to nominate the new patriarch.

I did not initiate this topic, but Phra Meteedhammajarn wrote about it on his Facebook page, and it has been shared widely. I think it’s important at this time because the news is currently all focused on Ven. Dhammajayo’s case, the actions of DSI, and the face-off that occurred - the drone descending from the helicopter and so forth.

The circumstances surrounding Wat Phra Dhammakaya as written by Phra Meteedhammajarn is something that everyone should follow. Phra Meteedhammajarn writes: “At the moment, news about the Office of the Council of State’s meeting to discuss the amendment of the Sangha Act of 1962 and the request to modify Section 7 of the Sangha Act of 1992 - the appointment of the Supreme Patriarch - has been published in different media outlets. This has caught the Sangha by surprise.”

Phra Meteedhammajarn said it is bewildering because it’s unclear who initiated the change in the Sangha Act.

Moreover, the Sangha who is directly affected by this particular amendment had no involvement in the modification of the key sections.

On page 3, Phra Meteedhammajarn adds: “In Thailand’s past, religion and the kingdom have always shared healthy relations. Both sides respected each other and did not infringe on the internal operations of the other. A reputable government should respect the Sangha and will not slander or carry out the plan of a certain group or people.”

Phra Meteedhammajarn continues:

“Today, I’m fully confident that if the government agrees to amend Section 7 of the Sangha Act of 1962, which is about the appointment of the Supreme Patriarch, then they’re about to make a colossal mistake that is irreparable. Think through this carefully; it is still not too late.”

This was a warning from Phra Meteedhammajarn who has been active with this issue and has received pressure from the government. This is a key point because the concern he raised may be due to his suspicions of the government.

The government may not be supportive of amending the Sangha Act or has a hidden agenda, as claimed by Phra Meteedhammajarn.

At the moment, there isn’t anything obvious. Nothing is clear to people who have been following this news story. Everything that has occurred happened quietly at the Office of the Council of the State.

It’s also possible that there are merits to Phra Meteedhammajarn’s observations. And it’s possible that it may be related to the appointment of the Supreme Patriarch.

I’m just presenting the news, but I think it’s an important topic that we should examine thoroughly to see what’s about to happen.

There are two battles: The first one is about DSI and Ven. Dhammajayo. We have to wait to see how much their case and evidence can incriminate Ven. Dhammajayo, and if they’re strong enough to challenge him in court.

The other story is the one quietly taking shape at the Office of the Council of State - whether or not the government will support the change in the Sangha Act. I admit, these are just conjectures.

When it’s time, the government will have to explain to the public if there are plans to amend the Sangha Act, and the reason for the modifications. The long term objective - this is the most important aspect.