Open Letter to the Public: Evil Cycle (Part 1 of 3)

The evil cycle is back and I’m worried.

 

I am old enough to have had a chance to watch Thai classic movies like Dok-Suk, Dao-Phra-Sok, Kukam and Maenakphrakanong.    These movies have been remade again and again.

I have lived through several successful and unsuccessful army coups in Thailand. The reasons for the coup were to get rid of corrupted politicians and institutions or changing the governing system.

Thai people get used to having a coup every once in a while. They accept the coup seizing government control like they accept the change of seasons, just as the rainy season takes over summer, and summer takes over winter, etc.   Thai people elected the government.  Then came the accusation of wrong doing.   And then the military took control of the government.  This evil cycle has repeated itself over and again. Thailand is in the top 5 countries that has the highest number of military coups in the world.

 Photo from PattayaProperty.Pro

Photo from PattayaProperty.Pro

Thai people forgive and forget very easily.  Some critical characteristics of Thais are believing in the news too easily and not having the patience for the outcome of a long process or development.

When they hear of the not-so-true news repeatedly, they tend to believe that it is true.  The more the media covers the news, the more they get involved, which makes the situation worse.  When the situation gets to boiling point, they cry for someone to step in to help. Someone becomes their hero.  They don’t know that sometimes their hero is actually the one who fakes the news in the first place.

Today the evil cycle is back again in Thailand. The difference is that the target has been extended from politics to religion. I believe 100% that religion is unavoidably entangles into political fights among different parties.

Dhammakaya case has become the new tragedy.  The temple was first established 50 years ago. Since its inception, there have been attacks on the temple almost every 10 years. 

In the past, Dhammakaya temple has been accused of promoting communism, unfairly treating rice farmers who rented the land that  became the temple, taking hold of temple properties illegally, not following the order of the Sangha head and implying miraculous competence of the abbot.  In 2017, the accusations include accepting things from a thief, money laundering, distorting the Buddha’s teaching, not being the real Buddhism, and breaking the law.

Within a few days, the military government filed 300 lawsuits against the temple. The Temple couldn’t catch up with all these speedy lawsuits.. I think this number of lawsuits could make it into the Guinness book of World Records.

The media keeps spreading the news. The Temple news makes headlines every day. The government strategically lures the media to report news to their benefit.  Then they use the laws that they wrote to handle Dhammakaya case.  Once they could not get what they want, they implemented the Article 44 on temple. Article 44 allows the government full power to crack down on the situation.  Anyone who doesn’t follow their orders are going against the law. It’s a full blown dictatorship

Various types of people and groups have started to publicly share their opinions, making a good drama on news and social media. Some of these are famous people  whose words Thais believe  more than that of their own parents.

The evil cycle is back as expected.

The way to battle with it is to confront it with the truth.

We all know that the battle between two politic groups, the red and yellow parties, is still going on in Thailand.  This time, the religion sector, Dhammakaya temple, is unwillingly assigned to one political party.  Believing the temple is now their opponent, the other party inevitably drags the temple into the evil cycle of destruction.

Government officials, media, some movie stars and some monks  started attacking Dhammakaya temple. It became a hot social issue.  When they could not destroy the temple as fast as they wanted or in the way they wanted, they implemented Article 44 against the temple. They claimed that this is the law  the temple has to follow. By the way, they made that law themselves. 

More than 5000 policemen and army troops have been deployed at the temple grounds. The number can be raised even higher if seen fit by the government.  No one knows how long the attack on Dhammakaya temple will last.  They prohibit people from entering the temple. They do not allow deliveries of food to temple. They block the internet and telephone signals, and threaten to cut off water and electricity.  Are you, Prime Minister, going to capture one single monk or commit a massacre?

The government throws a massive amount of money and resources at  this operation. I bet this is  politic.  You can kick me in my face if it’s proved otherwise.

I told you that Thais are credulous sand have little patience. They prefer seeing things done quickly and have less concern about the long-term consequences.  That’s why our country falls behind. We mostly solve the problem at hand without laying out a long-term plan for the social structure development in our country.  Like growing a banana tree, developed countries would care for the tree patiently until it bears fruit. Thais would instead start cut down leaves for other uses when the tree’s not fully grown. We won’t have a chance to taste banana if we keep cutting all the leaves. 

Click here to read Part 2.

 

Open Letter to the Public: Evil Cycle (Part 3 of 3)

DSI, the police, and the army tried to search the temple. They got the warrant. They threaten the temple in many ways including psychological war.  They thought that the temple followers would abandon the temple.  In contrary, the more they were threatened, the more the followers came.  DSI had come to a dead end. So the military government decided to use Article 44 to deal with one monk and one temple. Wow!.  The temple is not a warzone!  I think DSI forgets that this is just to deliver a charge to the abbot for the case of accepting property from thief and money laundering. This is not a war.

The temple reached a mutual agreement with DSI allowing the authorities to search the temple for three days. There were thousands of DSI, police officers and police canines searching every building inside the temple all day and all night.  (On a side note, these dogs are very cute. I heard that each dog cost 6 millions baht.)  They didn’t let the temple know where they would  search. Wherever they suspected a hiding place, such as a tunnel or secret room, they checked them all.   Mr. Mano Laohavanich gave them leads on where to check.  Nothing was found.  The officer signed the paper confirming that they did not find any target, drug, weapon or illegal object inside the temple. This was supposed to be the end of the story but it’s not.

The next day, they announced that monks and laypeople who were not directly involved with this matter needed to leave the temple so they could search the temple again. DSI broke their mutual agreement that they made with the temple. So temple people started to think that since they  built this temple,  they are directly involved.  It’s DSI and others that are not directly involved with this matter.  It is very true.

The battle has been going on for 11 days now. It is time that temple people stand up to the military law, Article 44.  Temple people would rather die instead of letting the government destroy their temple and Buddhism. The military government still insists that the temple breaks the law. Each side has their own view and story.

Today the military government mobilizes more forces from the police and the army to the temple. I don’t know why they want to defeat their own people who are also Thai. I don’t think it’s the right way to go.

The commander in chief of the Army stated that he did not want any violence. The commander in chief of Police also stated the same. They both let DSI take the lead and be the responsible party.  (In my opinion DSI couldn’t find someone else to bear this responsibility as wished. This is too heavy of a responsibility)

I don’t know how it is going to end.  I know that both sides will lose. The country is like a patient who has incurable disease.  Society is like a cracked glass about to shatter. The separation may be near: Nation, religion, or society.  Nothing will be the same as it was.

Imagine that we use the law as our standard instead of letting desire cloud our judgment.

Government, please use the  law of the land (not military law) and let the temple have a fair trial on court.  It doesn’t matter how long it’s going to take or how many courts the temple has to go through, let them do it.

DSI don’t hasten these more  critical cases.   DSI has given more time to other more critical cases. This is  a case that is considered non-critical. DSI does not need to put such huge effort and resources into this case.

About the accusation of the abbot regarding the teaching and the bragging about miraculous competence, in the letter from the head of Sangha the abbot was not found guilty  by monastic discipline and monastic law. According to Law, this case is already closed.  Please accept it, people.  You professors, singers, movie stars and famous people please take your time to comprehend and accept the ruling according to monastic discipline and monastic law.

If I have to choose between politics that depends on military law and Buddhism that our ancestors have carefully preserved and passed on to us, I’ll choose the latter.

Politics and laws change all the time depending on many factors. Buddhism is the root of our Thai society.

Please stop.  I am sick and tired of this current evil cycle in Thailand.

Open Letter to the Public: Evil Cycle  (Part 2 of 3)

Taking a clear look at Dhammakaya issue, the following is what I have observed:

The media groups attacking the temple are Nation group, Amarin group, T-News and Naewna.  Regardless of what’s really happening, you will never see any good story about Dhammakaya temple from them.  Unbiased media report both good and bad stories. When news reports are so biased, I’m hesitant to believe the whole story, and have to fact check with another credible media. Eventually I stop reading these biased media for good.

Famous Thai people also commented on this issue. These include Uuy Buddhabless, Dee Nitipong, Moo Pimpaka, Dr. Seri, Phra Buddhaisara. Their comments sparked public interest. Some might have a sincere intention but some might be biased. I am not really sure what their motives are. But their comments are in the same direction, going against the temple

Let me be straight. For those of you who are movie stars, singer, song writer, you earn money by making people fixated on sensual desires through your acting or your song. The Buddha taught us that images and sounds, etc., are sensual desires that we should not attach to.  How could you claim to understand the Buddha’s teaching? What qualifies you to justify who is the real monk and  what is the real Buddha teaching in the Tipitika, the real Buddhism.  You refer to the previous head of Sangha’s statement that Luang Phor was no longer a monk , and the his teaching did not fit with any Buddhist sect. You said that government should not allow people to provide food to the temple. Your most unacceptable false claim was that the temple that has been around for 50 years was a bandit’s den.

I want to ask you some simple questions. How many of you have ordained as a monk, and for how long? Have you had a chance to really read the Tipitika?  Or do you just take the words from other people’s mouth.  You can’t disrobe a monk, just because you want to. Every day, you sing a song, write a song, or act. Have you ever visited the temple to make merit? How many times have you listened to Dhamma talk? You’d better think before you answer. If it’s only very few times, stop criticizing. I know that you are very good at what you are doing.  But you are not good at everything.  The comments from these four people bear nothing to me.  You should study that subject carefully before giving comments. That’s all I want to say. I don’t want to argue with anyone. It is so annoying.

There are also some professors and others who support Article 44.  They said that they want democracy back for Thailand. Don’t you know that there is not even one democratic country that supports Article 44.

The Government tries to justify their actions.  They claim that they follow the law.  Let’s assume that I had the same authority allowed by Article 44. and that I had done whatever I wanted against you, just like the way you did against the temple. Would you still accept and follow that kind of laws?  People are fed up with excessive and inappropriate use of Article 44. Put yourself in others’ shoes and you will understand others’ feeling.

Yesterday, I learned another most disgusting thing the military government did.  The military government used Article 44 to replace the current director of Buddhism Department  with Pol. Lt. Col.  Pongsaporn Bhramsaneh, a DSI officer who worked on the case of Somdej Chuang.  I’m dumbfounded that the Pol.Lt.Col, besides having such a high competence at catching thieves,  also has great knowledges about the livelihood of monks.  This is so ridiculous.

Once the new director was appointed, the government used the law to order the Buddhist department to cooperate with the government officials. They ordered the Sangha heads of all regions to prohibit all monks in their region from coming to join with Dhammakaya temple. I don’t know whether all monks will believe this order or not. What I know is that a group of monks from Chiangmai province does not. They set a good example.

Let me be straight.  I think our Sangha as a whole is weak. The governing monks have less concern about the livelihood of monks than if the monks break the law. They are not concerned whether Buddhism is already in trouble.  The Buddhist department that used to support monks now puts restriction on monks.  It is the twilight time of Buddhism in Thailand.

Let’s focus on the real problem here.  Thai people forget things easily and do not look deep at the cause of this problem. I’ll tell you how it all happened and propose a way to resolve this problem that is better than using Article 44.

The abbot is accused of accepting money from a thief and engaging in money laundering.  The charge is only against the abbot, not the other monks or the temple. This kind of lawsuits is so common, and is among 10,000 other cases in Thailand. 

This was only the initial process of informing the charge to the abbot. No one was found guilty  yet.  To better understand the whole process, I need to mention Mr.Supachai’s case. He is still on trial to see if he is at fault.  After his lawsuit is finalized, then the will be a trial on the abbot for accepting the property from a thief (Mr. Supachai) and money laundering will begin. I don’t know how many years it will it take to start the trial for the abbot.

DSI needed to deliver the charge to the abbot. The abbot asked DSI to deliver the charge at the temple because he was ill.  The public attorney of DSI stated that the abbot’s request was against the law,  he has to accept the charge at DSI office only.  On the contrary, the deputy director of public attorney office and previous director of police department insisted that the charge can be delivered anywhere.  At this point you might wonder what law school the public attorney graduated from?  I believe that the abbot has no problem  to go on trial. He did that 10 years ago.

DSI made the temple mistrust them by not accepting the doctor’s note confirming the illness of the abbot. DSI did not send a doctor to examine the abbot at the temple. They went to get a warrant from the court instead.  When the temple representatives mentioned it, DSI said that the ongoing process went beyond that step already. In summary, why don’t DSI deliver the charge at the temple? Why did DSI insist that it’s against the law? Why?  Additionally, DSI said that if they get the abbot in custody, they will disrobe him.  If you were him, would you come to DSI?  I hope this will bring some light to many people who keep saying ‘if you did nothing wrong, why are you  so scared?’.

DSI then submited the case to the court. The public attorney told DSI to interrogate and gather more evidence from the defendant.  The suggestion from the court shows that this is a weak case. There is no strong evidence to support it.  If the case is submitted to court, it might be dismissed.

This summarized how we all get to this point.

Click here for Part 3.

An Open Letter to DSI

Most Venerable Phrathepyanmahamuni (Luang Por Dhammajayo), the abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya

An Open Letter to DSI from the Former Member of the National Reform Council’s Committee for Religious Policy Reformation and Protection of Buddhism

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) is seeking an arrest warrant for the Most Venerable Phrathepyanmahamuni (Luang Por Dhammajayo) of Wat Phra Dhammakaya after he requested a postponement of appearance due to acute health issues. Although the official request was enclosed with a medical certificate and confirmation by his medical team, DSI has disregarded it and remains firm in its decision. As of now, the case against Ven. Dhammajayo is still under investigation. 

Ven. Dhammajayo is suffering from health issues

In requesting a postponement of appearance, the accused (Ven. Dhammajayo) has reasonable cause, that is, genuine health issues. In fact, a team of licensed medical doctors had confirmed that he was truly ailing and this official diagnosis was submitted as part of the request for postponement. DSI’s refusal to acknowledge the medical opinion in order to expedite the investigative process may arise from ulterior motives, as DSI is a government agency.

The spokesperson for Ven. Dhammajayo has stated that they are most willing to allow a team of medical officers appointed by the DSI to inspect and ascertain Ven. Dhammajayo’s physical condition, in the precinct of Wat Phra Dhammakaya if they so wished as the chief abbot is unable to walk. This will definitely enable them to establish a bona-fide conclusion of the chief abbot’s condition and remove any suspicions. However, against all lawful and humane procedures, DSI had ignored the medical certificate and requested the court issue a warrant for his arrest on April 26th, 2016. Also, no DSI medical officers were assigned to examine Ven. Dhammajayo to offer a professional opinion on his health status.

DSI may be subject to manipulation by the government in order to attack Buddhism

The government sector may be using DSI as a puppet to launch strategic attacks on the religious community. Keep in mind that Ven. Dhammajayo is not yet a defendant and the case is still in the inquiry process. Therefore, the expedition of the process without room for compromise signifies that DSI may have a hidden agenda. Regardless, this is causing an unnecessary, significant conflict that is catastrophic toward all Buddhists as a whole, not including political polarization.

Does this action promote peace and order?

The government’s National Council for Peace and Order initially declared that the government would protect and promote the peace of the nation. By engaging in this aggressive action against the Buddhist community, can the government still claim that it aims to provide for the peace and order of the country? 

With all due respect, I pray that the courts of justice take this case into fair consideration. With the possibility of the loss of faith in the government and kingdom in mind, I, on behalf of the entire religious community, plead for due process and consideration from the court of justice.

Sasinapa Nitidhampapon
Former Member of the National Reform Council’s Committee for Religious Policy Reformation and Protection of Buddhism