Buddhism

VoiceTV: Not the 1st time Acting Abbot has been Appointed

Voice TV, July 11, 2016, Thai language source: http://news.voicetv.co.th/thailand/387648.html

The Ecclesiastical Sub-district Head of Klong-Si revealed that this isn’t the first time Wat Phra Dhammakaya has submitted a formal request to appoint an acting abbot. Ever since Venerable Dhammajayo became ill, he hasn’t been able to fully perform the duties as abbot. The Sub-district Head also said that he had visited Ven. Dhammajayo in the past and can confirm that the abbot is truly ailing.

Venerable Phrakruvijit-arpakorn, Abbot of Wat Sawangpope and Ecclesiastical Sub-district Head of Klong-Si [Klong Luang district, Pathum Thani province] received a letter from the lawyers of Wat O-noi in Nakorn Pathom, who have been given power of attorney by Phra Buddha Isara, to expedite the investigation of Phrathepyanmahamuni, or Ven. Dhammajayo, Abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya, for transgressing the Vinaya - the Monastic Code of Discipline - and the law of the nation. The lawyers said it has contributed to the deterioration of Buddhism and are hoping that something can be done.

As for the designation of an acting Abbot for Wat Phra Dhammakaya, the Sub-district Head reiterated that Wat Phra Dhammakaya has submitted requests for years ever since Ven. Dhammajayo became ill [the appointment is six months in duration] and that Ven. Dhammajayo is genuinely ill.

Klong-Si Sub-district Head said that appointing an acting abbot has been done consistently for some time now, with each period lasting six months. He said, "Ever since I became the Sub-district Head in 2011, Ven. Dhammajayo had always been in ill-health." The Sub-district Head appointed Ven. Phrarajbhavanajarn (Ven. Dattajeevo) as acting Abbot a long time ago; it didn’t just happen.  

Pol. Lt. Col. Somboon Sarasit, deputy chief of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) recently disclosed that they are in the process of acquiring additional evidence in certain areas as ordered by the Office of the Attorney General. DSI will push to complete this process before 13 August 2016, which is the date the Office of the Attorney General will announce the lawsuit.

A second request for a search warrant of Wat Phra Dhammakaya has not been clearly specified. Initial estimation is that it will take about two days to open a path to reach Ven. Dhammajayo since they assume that a large number of devotees of Wat Phra Dhammakaya are expected to congregate at the temple to practice meditation.

Recap of Wat Phra Dhammakaya Press Conference: June 7, 2016

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On June 7, 2016, Mr. Ong-Art Thamnita, Spokesperson of Supporters and Followers of Wat Phra Dhammakaya delivered a public statement. We have translated the recap of this press conference below.

1)

There have been instigators seeking to divide Buddhism, according to the Post Today’s headline: “Phra Payom sees through Phra Dhammajayo’s game, urging to cut food supplies”. The Dhammakaya temple teaches its followers to respect every single monk and would like to decline any political involvement in all cases. Everyone visiting the temple must set aside their political differences. The Abbot deeply respects the laws, and he only speaks the truth and has never spoken ill of others. This is absolutely contrary to what Phra Payom has claimed. 

Mr. Somkiat Onwimon has posted defaming posts on his personal twitter account, which is against the Computer Act. Numerous Buddhist groups have reported this to the police.

500 Venerable monks in different provinces of Thailand offer flowers to the Abbot as a way to give their support to the Dhammakaya temple.

TNews’s headlines: “Dhammakaya temple is brainwashing its followers, and all the monks around Thailand are arrested for receiving donations from people.” These headlines are damaging to Buddhism. The venerable monks from various provinces in Thailand have concluded that phlegmatism will lead to the downfall of Buddhism, and this could happen during our lifetime. We must fight and are willing to give up our lives to protect Buddhism. What has recently happened in the news is pure slander. The Abbot has never touched the money. The Dhammakaya temple has a Committee that handles its finances.

2)

The fabricated rumors that the temple is an independent state.

Some newspapers accused the temple of being an independent state. The Dhammakaya temple rejects this claim entirely. The Dhammakaya temple is a Buddhist temple not an independent state or sub-state. The temple was built lawfully just like any other Buddhist temples. Accusing the temple’s followers of treason is a serious accusation.

3)

Criticizing the Abbot’s medical teams

Some medical professionals have accused the Abbot’s medical teams of staging his illness. This action is not according to the medical code of ethics. The Dhammakaya’s legal team has compiled evidence of slander and attempts at defamation against these medical professionals. The posts that are perceived to be ill-intended will be submitted to the Medical Council requesting such posts to be deleted and a statement of apology issued.

4)

Some police officers suggested the temple beware of a “third party”

We would like to thank you for your concern. If there are any suspicious persons in the temple, they will be asked to leave the temple premises immediately.

The temple’s lawyer and the legal team are pressing charges against Phra Buddha Isara and Mr. Paiboon Nititawan. These two individuals have acted unlawfully such as defaming Somdej Chuang, the acting Supreme patriarch. The legal team is pressing charges on behalf of Buddhism as a whole, not just as Dhammakaya followers. This action is not being influenced by someone behind-the-scenes.

12 May 2016 KCUC Speaks Out After DSI is Urged by Third Parties to Expedite Case

Mr. Prakit  Pilangkasa, Committee Chairman for the Revival of Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC) speaks out after Mr. Thammanoon Attichoti and Mr. Paiboon Koomchaya urges DSI to expedite the case on 10 May 2016

Full video in Thai

Transcript of the 12 May 2016 KCUC Press Conference:

Klongchan Credit Union Corporative (KCUC) has tens of thousands of members, and he [Mr. Thammanoon] is just one of the members. Recently, we’ve created a recovery plan to repay our debts to our members and creditors, so it’s not unusual to hear differing opinions on this matter. This plan was proposed by the current Board of Directors. Mr. Thammanoon is a member who is entitled to his views, and his views are independent of our present plans. He has been engaging in activities for some time now that expresses views which oppose those of the Board. I’ve only come to learn of his actions at DSI yesterday after watching Mr. Paiboon’s interview.

Q: Does KCUC support yesterday’s action by Mr. Thammanoon, Mr. Paiboon, and Mr. Mano [Laohavanich]?

A: It has nothing to do with us. Let’s take them one by one. Mr. Mano gives an interview that portrays the credit union negatively; so we are consulting our lawyers whether legal action can be taken. Mr. Paiboon has absolutely nothing to do with us. All we know is that as a political figure he has a certain responsibility in society and influence. We all know what his personal opinions are on such things. He has no ties with KCUC whatsoever. Mr. Thammanoon is the only one out of the trio who actually has ties with KCUC. He is free to express his opinions. Whether his actions are disliked or violate anyone’s rights, the victims will have to make that evaluation themselves.

Q: Has Mr. Thammanoon ever demonstrated similar behaviors at the credit union?

A: He has regularly expressed his disagreements with the Board of Directors’ actions through various social media outlets. The differing of opinions are often expressed as criticisms, and they are views that anyone can have. The board has the duty to carry out its policies and follow its plans. Although Mr Thammanoon’s views differ from the board’s, we do not criticize him. If any of his ideas were useful, we will take them into consideration. However, we will not implement ideas that we disagree with.

Q: Is Mr Thammanoon’s recent action beneficial to KCUC members?

A: As I’ve said earlier, we have many members. Some of the members suffered from the crisis, which have been reflected through different means: some extreme, some peaceful. I’m quite certain that many of the members have questions about the plausibility of Mr. Thammanoon’s ideas. I believe that the majority of them believe in our plan for recovery. When we had our meeting to vote on this plan, 88% [of the board of directors] were in favor because 80% of all members agreed with this plan of action. Mr. Thammanoon was part of the group that disagreed, but since we follow a democratic structure, we must follow the action plan voted by the majority.

Q: There was a letter submitted to DSI Director, saying that the special funds from the supporters of Wat Phra Dhammakaya were given to the KCUC to urge the credit union to withdraw both civil and criminal lawsuits against Ven. Dhammajayo, and only a partial amount of the funds were given, a portion of the funds that were said to be the actions of these 2 individuals. The funds were not meant to be a refund, but came with a clause that it may be recalled by law, even though Ven Dhammajayo and Wat Phra Dhammakaya have over a billion that a lawsuit may be filed for. If the credit union filed a serious lawsuit against them, you may receive all the money back with interest to repay the members. The agreement clause was written in favor of Ven. Dhammajayo, and not the credit union’s members.

How would you clarify this issue that also alleged the credit union?

A: The recovery plan must find funding to repay debts that include debt to tens of thousands of members, and over 70 other credit unions, amounting to 18 billion baht. Therefore, the source of these funds must come from several places, as the plan states. One of the sources is the funds from the lawsuits against Mr. Supachai and associates. A large sum of money was taken from the credit union through Mr. Supachai’s cheques. It is a lot of money compared to the amount the temple received. Yes, the temple has a lot of assets. In reality, we filed civil lawsuits against Mr. Supachai, Wat Phra Dhammakaya, and Most Ven. Dhammajayo. We never filed any criminal lawsuits against the temple. We have been in contact with the temple about refunding the donations since we saw that it was the member’s money, used wrongly by Mr. Supachai. The supporters of the temple wanted the problem to cease and to preserve the image of the abbot, so they raised the funds themselves to help the members of the credit union. It was not Ven. Dhammajayo’s money. On our side, we filed many lawsuits against Mr. Supachai and never got a dime because the cases have not concluded. The prosecutors made a decision, but the refund never arrived. We currently have one billion baht in funds. The first amount of 684 million was the first sum which we will use to repay the members this June. If anyone said that the funds from the supporters of the temple was not helpful, that is not true. The only reason we could repay any of the debtors is because of the temple. This is the truth.

Q: Lastly, what would you like to say to the third party joining KCUC members and causing lots of confusion?

A: I’ve very disappointed in the non-members who joined the mob. The information they gave was information from Mr. Thammanoon because he has said the same things many times before. The third party who joined yesterday just repeated Mr. Thammanoon’s opinions.

Q: Do you have anything to say to the supporters of Wat Phra Dhammakaya?

A: The members realize that the amount of money received to aid us was not a small amount. To be honest, it wasn’t even their obligation to sacrifice that much money. It was an act arising from their faith. The credit union would like to thank the supporters. Though there were clauses and agreements that came with the money, they were all reasonable.

Q: What’s the truth behind the 6% interest on this 600 million from the supporters of the temple? Any truth to the supporters tagging on a 6% interest to the 600 plus million funds?

A: I’ve never heard about this 6% interest before.

Q: The funds were not meant to only help, but it came with interest.

A: The credit union has a plan to help affected members by allowing for loans no larger than 50,000 baht. We will charge a 6% interest. Let me be clear. We are not using the temple’s money, 684 million, which will be used in June. The loan that has 6% interest is from another sum of funds. Each month we will allocate about 10 million to be borrowed and allow members in need to take out a maximum loan of 50,000 baht at 6% interest.

Q: Are the funds that the temple supporters gave to the KCUC subject to recall?

A: There is an agreement because it is not the abbot’s money that’s being returned. It is a fund raised with the agreement that if in the future, the court decided what Mr. Supachai took wasn’t KCUC’s money, we will have to return the funds to the supporters. This is just hypothetical.

Q: What about the accusation that in exchange for the money you will not pursue legal actions against Luang Por [Ven. Dhammajayo]?

A: Only the court can decide who is right or wrong. What we did was for the benefit of the credit union’s members.

Q: Mr. Thammanoon tried to show that his actions yesterday represented the attitude of all 50,000 members. He acted on behalf of all members, filing a criminal lawsuit for receiving stolen property. Is he a representative for all the members?

A: When we watched the news and the newscaster asks anyone a question, they always claim to be representing the people. I don’t think it’s that way. Real members would know who is who. Who agrees with Thammanoon, and who are outsiders. For outsiders, I think they should try to learn the situation fully first.

Q: What will be the consequences of Mr. Thammanoon’s press exposure?

A: It will create a bad image for the credit union. This would hinder the plan of action. Debtors who hold a net worth of over 9 billion baht agreed, with 80% confidence, with the plan of action.  Even the government agreed to help find funds if the members were in favor. Even the court was sure that the government wouldn’t abandon the credit union. Therefore, the plan was sanctioned by many sectors. People who disagree would not know if their own ideas would be guaranteed to work better than our plan or not.

1 June 2016 Press Conference held by Supporters and Followers of Wat Phra Dhammakaya

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Summary of Key Points

1 June 2016 14.30 hrs. Video in Thai here.

By Ong-Art Thamnitta and Leelavadee Wacharobol

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In regards to the news that has spread regarding the temple resorting to brute force, awaiting reinforcements, and barricading the premises:

Mr. Ong-Art: This is completely false. The temple has only opened the main entrances, and will keep only these open. This includes the entrance from Klong Luang Road. There is no barricade but only young volunteers to welcome visitors. Entrance 5 is also open and supervised on a regular basis. Some TV channels have claimed that additional backup--strong, able-bodied men--have come into the temple steadily. This, too, is not true at all. Only the lay congregants have come in to practice meditation.

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Some individuals have wondered about the barbed wire installed above the temple walls. The answer is the other side is private property and has nothing to do with the temple. The barbed wire is there because the temple supporters are concerned about safety.

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Heavy equipment vehicles have been removed from the entrance in front of the main chapel because the situation has improved. The vehicles did not belong to the temple, but rather they belonged to supporters who were concerned about Ven. Dhammajayo’s safety. Additionally, the local residents have listened to news from the prime minister who reassured them that nothing will occur, leading them to move their trucks.

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Another unfounded allegation is: The portable toilet tents are used to conceal the digging of trenches to prevent access to Ven. Dhammajayo.

Mr. Ong-Art: This tent is basically a portable bathroom. (He also demonstrates how it is used.)

From the allegations by the Justice Minister who said, “Do not use the masses to obstruct the law.” Wat Phra Dhammakaya continues to fully respect the law.

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The allegations related to Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC):  Why hasn’t there been an investigation into donations made to other organizations. Why is the focus solely on the temple?

Two KCUC executives were previously interviewed, and the video was broadcast at the press conference: The supporters of Wat Phra Dhammakaya have established a fund to help the credit union members who were affected by the case. We do not understand the accusations brought by Mr. Mano and Mr. Paiboon that the temple has engaged in wrongdoing, as they have nothing to do with the case.

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Ms. Leelavadee Wacharobol spoke about the sharing of a post via social media, which stated ‘if Ven. Dhammajayo is truly guilty, she and his supporters will hang themselves’.

Ms. Leelavadee refuted these claims, saying that she has already filed a claim with the police and will pursue the maximum legal action available.

If what the Minister says is not true, we ask that he be penalized or request that he ask for forgiveness at the government office. He has to be held accountable for spreading these rumors, which has caused the temple and Ven. Dhammajayo to be seen as guilty by the public - although the information has merely been speculations.

Ms. Leelavadee emphasized that Ven. Dhammajayo teaches people to be virtuous, to meditate, and to share the truth with the public in a respectable manner.

It concluded with questions from reporters:

Will there be a medical examination of Ven. Dhammajayo by the Medical Council?

Mr. Ong-Art indicated that we are past that juncture. It is no longer necessary for the medical examination to take place. At this time, this matter is being reviewed by the governing Sangha.

Lastly, during lunch hour today, Buddhist monks from the northeast region came to offer their moral support to Ven. Dhammajayo.

INNNews & WINNEWS: World Theravada Buddhist Sangha Council pleads with Prime Minister to Use Peaceful Means with Ven. Dhammajayo Case

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May 31, 2016 14:53 Thailand time 

Source: http://www.winnews.tv/news/3881http://www.innnews.co.th/shownews/show?newscode=702510

A letter from the World Theravada Buddhist Sangha Council (WTBSC) to H.E. General Prayuth Chan-O-Cha implores him to find peaceful means to halt the human rights violations of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on Phrathepyanmahamuni (Most Venerable Dhammajayo).

Venerable Pasura Dantamano, Chief of International Affairs Division at Wat Phra Dhammakaya, indicated that the World Theravada Buddhist Sangha Council has filed a letter via email with the Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-O-Cha requesting that he find a peaceful resolution.

At the present moment, Wat Phra Dhammakaya is in a delicate position that warrants grave concern for its abbot, who is defamed and being unjustly charged by Thailand’s (DSI). Since the lawsuit lacks solid evidence, the World Theravada Buddhist Sangha Council fears that he is being unfairly persecuted.  

DSI has violated many laws, including issuing an arrest warrant based on the mere reason that Ven. Dhammajayo did not meet with DSI officials as requested. This is in spite the temple’s plea for DSI to present the abbot with his charges at the temple due to illness that had been verified by a panel of doctors.     

The temple confirms they submitted this request to DSI repeatedly so that they could send their panel of medical specialists to verify Ven. Dhammajayo’s health condition at Wat Phra Dhammakaya. What is suspicious is DSI has refused to respond to their plea and insists on issuing an arrest warrant, which is considered a clear violation of patient rights.

DSI has indicated that it will enlist the help of 2,200 troops in order to arrest the ailing 72-year old monk. Ven. Dhammajayo has dedicated his entire life to fostering world peace and disseminating Buddhism. The attitude and actions of DSI are short of justice and beyond what is necessary. This creates tremendous doubts and uncertainty for other organizations working toward peace and morality.

WTBSC, thus, requests H.E. General Prayuth Chan-O-Cha, Prime Minister of Thailand, to review this matter and generate a peaceful solution to end all violations by DSI on Wat Phra Dhammakaya. WTBSC firmly believes H.E. will understand the sensitivity of the situation and will move forward in a manner most appropriate and most compassionately towards this Buddhist monk.

Security measures around Wat Phra Dhammakaya have been set up.  Venerable Noppon Punyachayo, Deputy Director of Communications, admitted there has been just cause for the increased security measures that included installing barbed-wire onto the temple’s external walls and other areas, and increased numbers of CCTV to monitor people entering and exiting the temple. However, Venerable Noppon affirms that there has been no use of force and that the temple remains positive. There is concern and precaution against third parties who may cause unnecessary problems.

At the same time, the International Buddha Education Institute and YSSSR Foundation (IBEI-YSSSRF) in India presented the 2016 Symbol Peace Award to the Most Venerable Phrathepyanmahamuni Dhammajayo Bhikkhu and the 2016 Global Peace Ambassador Award to the Dhammakaya Foundation to recognize their “devotion, dedication and commitment towards the development of peace and harmony in society.”

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Additionally, letters from other organizations located in Korea and Japan have been sent to ask the Prime Minister to intervene in the case including the Theravada Sangha Senate of Korea; We Love Peace Association of Saitama, Japan; and the Thai-Japanese Relations Association of Tokyo, Japan, amongst others.

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BangkokBizNews: Dhammakaya Not Worried About Water-Electricity Cut Off, Denies Mobilizing Human Shield

May 29, 2016, 7:30 AM Thailand time

Source: http://www.bangkokbiznews.com/news/detail/700067

Dhammakaya is not worried about water and electricity cut off. Denies mobilizing human shield. Fears third party entering and exiting the premises

Throughout the day at Wat Phra Dhammakaya, supporters continuously arrived to join in meditation and the overnight retreat at the Temple. A recording of Venerable Dhammajayo’s guided meditation is played during the meditation sessions. Meanwhile, Mr. Ong-art Thamnittha, spokesperson for the supporters of Wat Phra Dhammakaya, confirmed that the masses of people coming to the Temple are not here to pressure anyone but to meditate, wish Ven. Dhammajayo a speedy recovery from his illness, and offer their support. Backhoe trucks are used to block some of the entrances to the temple except for the main gate to prevent third parties from instigating trouble. Mr. Ong-art affirms that it is not meant to be permanent. People can still enter and exit the temple. The temple’s supporters respect the law and will not resort to violence.

In respect to DSI’s plan to cut food supply, water and electricity, Mr. Ong-art believes that DSI won’t carry this out. But if DSI does, there shouldn’t be any problems or concerns because everyone joining the meditation retreat is practicing detachment from all comforts and conveniences. This is a practice on patience and perseverance.

NationTV22: DSI Reveals Plan to Cut off Temple’s Food and Water Supply as a Tactic Against Phra Dhammajayo

DSI Reveals Plan to Cut off Temple’s Food and Water Supply as a Tactic Against Phra Dhammajayo.     5,000 Monks-Supporters estimated to be at the Temple. NationTV22

DSI Reveals Plan to Cut off Temple’s Food and Water Supply as a Tactic Against Phra Dhammajayo.

5,000 Monks-Supporters estimated to be at the Temple. NationTV22

May 27, 2016 17:05 Thailand Time

Source: http://www.nationtv.tv/main/content/social/378503257/

A source says that today DSI estimated there were about 5,000 people at Wat Phra Dhammakaya, including monks and lay people. There were more people today than yesterday (May 26). DSI believes people will continue to come to the temple. State authorities are observing all 15 entrances and are preparing for operations in the next step of their plan, which is to stop the transportation of rice, and disconnect water and food supplies to Wat Phra Dhammakaya.

This will prove who has more endurance - the temple supporters or the state authorities. The government is confident that its forces are stronger because police reinforcements can be mobilized at any time. Once food and water supplies are cut, the Temple’s supporters will gradually leave the Temple. The authorities will then reestimate the number of people who remain inside the temple and ask them to leave before the authorities conduct an inspection within the temple premises. To avoid conflict, this is the gentlest approach. 

The source stated that in the long term, the government wants the public to see what’s right and to express their opinions in order for the Sangha to pressure and investigate their own members. Nonetheless, Venerable Dhammajayo’s current location cannot be determined. He is most likely inside the Dhammakaya Cetiya, but [DSI] requests cooperation from the press as he may have relocated to another location.