To the Bangkok Post: Phrathepyanmahamuni isn’t just “sick", his conditions are life threatening

Bangkok Post’s latest article about Phrathepyanmahamuni's (Most Venerable Dhammajayo) condition and request for Thailand’s Department of Special Investgation (DSI) to provide a hearing at Wat Phra Dhammakaya clearly reflect a deeply held bias they have against the 72-year old Buddhist monk and abbot.

On May 14th, 2016 at 2pm, Wat Phra Dhammakaya held a press conference led by the temple’s press team and MV Dhammajayo’s physicians. The press release regarding his condition and request to DSI can be found here.

Press conference at Wat Phra Dhammakaya on May 14th, 2016 led by the temple’s press team and MV Dhammajayo’s physicians. 

Press conference at Wat Phra Dhammakaya on May 14th, 2016 led by the temple’s press team and MV Dhammajayo’s physicians. 

Bangkok Post’s article failed to include all pertinent facts, several of which would have been made known to them had they attended the press conference:

Medical Condition

  • Let’s do a quick analysis of MV Dhammajayo’s condition: “...patient’s left lower extremity is now becoming more acutely ischemic and vascular surgeons have discussed the possibility of amputation.” What does this mean? He is at risk for LOSS of LIMB.

  • His condition of, “acute deep vein thrombosis in the left lower extremity places patient at risk for an acute pulmonary embolism, which is fatal” means MV Dhammajayo is NOT just “sick” as the Bangkok Post writes, but his conditions are LIFE THREATENING. MV Dhammajayo has the right to preserve his basic human right to life.

Ven. Pasura rather than Ven. Sanitwong as incorrectly attributioned by the Bangkok Post, points to a photo of MV Dhammajayo's leg at the press conference.

Ven. Pasura rather than Ven. Sanitwong as incorrectly attributioned by the Bangkok Post, points to a photo of MV Dhammajayo's leg at the press conference.

  • [Updated May 15, 2016] Bangkok Post writes, "Doctors who briefed the media at the temple displayed several pictures showing the symptoms affecting the monk's body, but none of them showed his face." The watermarked photo (above) taken from Bangkok Post's website clearly shows a photo displaying MV Dhammajayo's face in the top left corner of the photo display board. This is complete SLANDER and a complete disregard for the truth. 

Patient's Rights

  • It is a patient’s right to elect his physician, and opt for a second opinion by a physician of his choosing. He also has the right to determine where this treatment takes place, whether in his own home or temple, or in a hospital. It is also not considered unusual for physicians to make house calls. Given the nature of MV Dhammajayo’s conditions, it is unsurprising that medical examinations took place at the temple.

  • It is also a patient’s medical right to privacy to request that no photos be taken. This right is well known in the international community. And given the Bangkok Post is an English language newspaper, they should be aware of this. If DSI wants to ensure the photos and x-rays of MV Dhammajayo’s extremities do indeed belong to him, they should send their own team of medical experts. The temple already extended an invitation for DSI to bring their own team of physicians to conduct their own examination.

  • DSI seemed to be aware of patient’s rights back in 2015 when they examined MV Dhammajayo at the temple. Have they forgotten? Why aren’t they able to do so this time and why hasn’t Bangkok Post questioned their refusal to do so?

  • The temple offered to provide transportation to DSI officials to conduct their investigation and medical examination of MV Dhammajayo at the temple. This is a fairly generous offer. If I were Bangkok Post, I would question DSI’s motive if they were to refuse.

Physician performs medical examination of MV Dhammajayo on May 14, 2016

Physician performs medical examination of MV Dhammajayo on May 14, 2016

Abuse of Power

  • Bangkok Post fails to mention that the DSI charges being brought against Ven. Dhammajayo reflect an abuse of power. The “evidence” and “charges” presented by DSI were taken from a previously opened case already under investigation. This is ILLEGAL under Civil Procedure Code Section 173(1) and Criminal Procedure Code Section 15. Why hasn’t Bangkok Post investigated this? 

  • As part of the Ministry of Justice, DSI must abide by a code of ethics - which has been nearly absent from its handling of this case. They’ve bypassed all protocol unjustly and unethically, determined to bring Ven. Dhammajayo to court, including failing to send their own medical team, retracting an initial postponement allowance on April 25, and serving a third summons by posting it to the temple’s “doors”, without ensuring it reaches the hands of Ven. Dhammajayo’s representatives.

  • And most importantly, the charges being brought against MV Dhammajayo are groundless. MV Dhammajayo is being accused of laundering money and receiving stolen property. The premise for money laundering, however, requires an absence of a clear money trail. This is not the case here. All funds donated to the temple were with checks, not cash, in front of a crowd of thousands and broadcast on satellite TV - all of which have already been allocated towards social works projects and construction of religious facilities. MV Dhammajayo does not handle the funds himself - the temple’s chief financial officer is fully responsible for it. And although it was not required, MV Dhammajayo’s supporters raised ~600 mil baht in an act of goodwill to help the KCUC get back on its feet - the only organization under investigation to do so. So, why is DSI continuing to target only MV Dhammajayo? And why hasn’t Bangkok Post written about this?

Responsible Journalism

  • [Update as of May 15, 2016]: Bangkok Post's latest headline in the Sunday print edition (at bottom) misleads the public into believing MV Dhammajayo has "snubbed" DSI, which is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "rebuff, ignore, or spurn disdainfully." This is far from the truth as stated above, and is simply a way to prioritize sensationalization of news over facts.

  • Jitchareoenkul and Laochong, authors of the article's print version write, "The monk did not say whether DSI authorities would be allowed to meet with Phra Dhammajayo directly." The temple's press team had stated at the press conference that they welcomed DSI-appointed physicians to examine MV Dhammajayo, which would certainly imply that DSI would be "allowed" to meet with the abbot in person.

  • Bangkok Post’s position as a top media outlet in Thailand should be questioned. Their failure to adhere to codes for responsible journalism indicates this bias - including why Bangkok Post chose to exclude pertinent information, and why it has not investigated the practices of DSI itself. I urge readers and reporters from international outlets to exercise caution when using Bangkok Post as a source for news or your own reporting.

MV Dhammajayo has dedicated nearly 50 years to Buddhism, social works, and other projects for world peace. Full facts about the case can be found here

Bangkok Post [Print Edition] May 15, 2016

Bangkok Post [Print Edition] May 15, 2016