Prime Minister Prayut wants Thai monks to clean up

Buddhist monks continue to act inappropriately and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has had enough. Prime Minister Prayut yesterday ordered the National Bureau of Buddhism to tighten discipline among Thai Buddhist monks, following a long string of cases of monks breaking the rules.

The Sangha – the collective word for the Thai monastic community – has existed for thousands of years in Thailand. Ordained monks must follow 227 rules described in the code of monastic discipline. However, monks in saffron robes often break even the most serious rules such as no sex, no drugs, no stealing, no murder, and no lying.

Have Buddhist monks always been mean, or has modern mass media and technology simply put their inappropriate behavior in the spotlight?

Anyway, some Thai monks haven’t been the best role models lately. Reports of monks taking drugs, carrying methamphetamine, drinking, driving while intoxicated, laundering money, stealing, sniffing women’s underwear, committing murder and meeting women are making headlines newspapers in the kingdom.

Yesterday, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said Prime Minister Prayut had raised concerns about unruly monks who are crucially affecting the faith of Thai Buddhists. He therefore ordered the National Office of Buddhism and the Provincial Office of Buddhism, or POC, to intensify their efforts to observe the monks and ensure that they strictly adhere to their monastic code of conduct…

“The primary duty of monks is to maintain and propagate the teachings of the Buddha as well as to study Buddhist doctrines…The Prime Minister then directed the POC to coordinate closely with committees of monks in all areas to monitor the behavior and discipline of the monk in order to regain the religious trust and faith of the public and make Thai Buddhism flourish again.

Corruption and nepotism loom as large in Thailand’s Supreme Sangha Council – the governing body of Thai monks – as they do in the various other Thai institutions. The sangha is hierarchical, with charisma and power being assigned to certain individuals. Power can be used for good, but it can also be abused.

Wirapol Sukphol was a popular and revered monk who was defrocked and imprisoned in 2017 after being accused of money laundering. Wirapol owned 22 Mercedes Benz cars, a mansion in California and ฿200 million in ten bank accounts. He was also accused of having sex with women and raping a child who gave birth to his child at age 15, a claim the US Department of Special Investigations backed up with DNA analysis. Wirapol is serving a 20-year prison sentence for his crimes.

Ancient Reuters journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall commented on Wirapol’s misconduct…

“Corruption is the norm in Thailand rather than the exception. Powerful people behave in the most outrageous and illegal ways, and that is simply accepted. Almost everyone who has a power they can abuse does, and what sets Wirapol apart isn’t the fact that he was corrupt or the fact that he was a monk, but the fact that he was so successful .

Wirapol’s case led many to believe that Thai Buddhism was in crisis. Four years later, poorly educated monks are still making headlines in Thailand every day.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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