Tiger Temple abbot 'not at fault'

Tiger Temple abbot 'not at fault'

Phra Wisutthi Sarathera, or Luang Ta Chan, 61-year-old abbot of the Tiger Temple, appears briefly on a buggy behind its gate without any direct explanation to reporters on its tiger business in Sai Yok district, Kanchanaburi, on Thursday. (Photos by Piyarach Chongcharoen)
Phra Wisutthi Sarathera, or Luang Ta Chan, 61-year-old abbot of the Tiger Temple, appears briefly on a buggy behind its gate without any direct explanation to reporters on its tiger business in Sai Yok district, Kanchanaburi, on Thursday. (Photos by Piyarach Chongcharoen)

The abbot of the Tiger Temple had nothing to do with the alleged abuse and illegal trading of tigers and tiger parts, according to his representatives who have put the blame squarely on temple staff and officials.

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Abbot 'not at fault' in tiger case

PIYARACH CHONGCHAROEN

Kanchanaburi: Wat Pa Luang Ta Maha Bua, better known as the Tiger Temple, yesterday claimed its abbot was unaware of any possible misconduct linked to the tigers at the temple.

Media reports have portrayed the temple as being a criminal den involved in illegal wildlife trading, said Siri Wangboonkerd, a former Pheu Thai MP for Bangkok, yesterday.

He represented the temple in its first media conference held to defend the temple's abbot, Phra Wisutthi Sarathera, known as Luang Ta Chan, since the controversy erupted, leading to the forced relocation of 147 live tigers and the confiscation of tiger carcasses.

The relocation of the tigers by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) was carried out between May 30 and last Saturday. Authorities also seized the carcasses of 40 tiger cubs found in fridges and 30 more dead cubs preserved in jars. Around 2,000 tiger carcasses and talismans made mainly from tiger parts were also confiscated.

According to Mr Siri, Luang Ta Chan only provided space to care for the tigers, while veterinarian Somchai Wisetmongkolchai was responsible for actually looking after the tigers for nearly 17 years.

The veterinarian started work in 2001 taking care of six to seven legally registered tigers, said Mr Siri.

Mr Somchai recently filed a complaint with the DNP over the disappearance of three tigers and an incident in which he claimed someone handed him three microchips that had been embedded in the bodies of the missing tigers, said Mr Siri.

If the microchips were the ones embedded in the missing tigers, it meant the tigers were dead by the time the microchips were removed from their bodies, he said.

Siri Wangboonkerd, left, and lawyer Saiyud Pengboonchu speak on behalf of the Tiger Temple's abbot in front of the temple's gate on Thursday.

Following the complaint, the DNP failed to investigate the disappearances and instead confiscated 147 tigers and searched the temple, he added.

Mr Siri said that he was left wondering if the department really had the authority to search the temple and confiscate the tigers without obtaining a proper court order.

According to Mr Siri, the temple took good care of the tigers and their relocation led to the shutdown of one of the most important tourist attractions in Sai Yok while employees hired to take care of the tigers at the temple had lost their jobs.

"What happened to the temple was a conspiracy by the veterinarian and the DNP to destroy the temple. The move was also backed by an international organisation, with a hidden agenda to move the tigers to create a new tourist attraction."

As for the discovery and seizure of 30 dead tiger cubs preserved in jars at the temple, he said only the veterinarian was capable of preserving them.

The abbot knew nothing other than what he was told by the veterinarian, Mr Siri said.

He also dismissed allegations that the temple was part of a wildlife smuggling ring that supplied tigers to the black market, saying the temple had yet to decide whether or not to file a countersuit against those who made the allegations.

Saiyud Phengboonchu, a lawyer representing the temple, meanwhile, claimed the seized talismans were produced by workers who had already been arrested.

Following the raids at the temple, five suspects, three monks and two laymen, were detained for questioning.

A number of talismans were found in the abbot's living quarters simply because the workers hid them there assuming authorities would not go after the abbot during a raid, said Mr Siri.

Luang Ta Chan appeared only briefly after the news conference ended. He arrived in a golf cart and said he was not feeling very well before disappearing into the temple. The media briefing took place outside the temple, near its entrance.

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Vocabulary

  • abbot (noun): the head monk at a temple - เจ้าอาวาส
  • allegations (noun): accusations - ข้อกล่าวหา
  • appear: to be seen - ปรากฏ
  • arrested: caught by the police and taken to a police station because you are believed to have committed a crime - ถูกจับกุม
  • assume: to accept something to be true without question or proof - ทึกทักเอา, คิดว่าเป็นจริง,
  • attraction: something that creates interest and brings people to see it - การดึงดูดความสนใจ
  • authorities: people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • authority: power - อำนาจ
  • backed (verb): given support - ให้การสนับสนุน
  • black market (noun): an illegal form of trade in which foreign money, or goods that are difficult to obtain, are bought and sold - ตลาดมืด
  • briefing: a meeting in which people receive information or instruction - คำแถลงการณ์สั้น,สรุปแบบสั้นๆ
  • briefly: for a short time - ชั่วครู่, สั้นๆ, ในเวลาสั้นๆ
  • capable: able to do something; very good at a job - มีความสามารถ
  • carcass: the body of a dead animal - ซาก
  • case: a matter that is being officially investigated, especially by the police - คดี
  • claim: to say that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it - อ้าง
  • confiscate: to take away - ยึด
  • confiscated: officially taken away - ถูกยึด
  • confiscation: officially remove someone’s possessions for legal reasons or as a punishment   - การยึดทรัพย์
  • conspiracy: a secret plan by a group of people to do something bad or illegal - การวางแผนอย่างลับๆ การสมรู้ร่วมคิด
  • controversy: a disagreement, especially about a public policy or a moral issue that a lot of people have strong feelings about - ความขัดแย้ง
  • countersuit: a lawsuit filed against someone who has previously filed a lawsuit against you - การฟ้องกลับ
  • court: the place where legal trials take place and where crimes, etc. are judged - ศาล
  • criminal: illegal; against the law - ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย
  • cub: a young bear, lion, fox, etc - ลูกของสัตว์
  • defend: to say things to support someone or something - ปกป้อง
  • den: a place where people meet in secret, especially for some illegal or immoral activity - บ่อน
  • Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (noun): an agency of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment responsible for overseeing the country's national parks, wildlife and plants - กรมอุทยานแห่งชาติ สัตว์ป่า และพันธุ์พืช
  • destroy (verb): to damage something so badly that it no longer exists, works, etc - ทำลาย
  • detained: kept in a place and not allowed to leave - กักตัว ควบคุมตัวหรือฝากขัง
  • disappearance: moving something or someone somewhere where they can no longer be seen - การหายไป, การสาบสูญ, การสูญหาย
  • discovery: an act or the process of finding somebody/something, or learning about something that was not known about before - การค้นพบ
  • dismiss: to refuse to accept that something might be true or important - ไม่สนใจ,แย้งกลับ
  • embed: to fix something firmly in a surface or object - ฝังลงไป
  • employee: someone who is paid regularly to work for a person or an organisation - ลูกจ้าง
  • entrance: a door, gate, passage, etc. used for entering a room, building or place - ทางเข้า
  • erupt (verb): to start suddenly - ปะทุขึ้น
  • fault (adj): being the one to blame; blameworthy; the person who caused something bad to happen - ความผิด
  • file a complaint: to make an official statement that someone has done something wrong - ยื่นคำร้อง
  • former: of or in an earlier time; before the present time or in the past - อดีต, แต่ก่อน
  • fridge: a piece of kitchen equipment which uses electricity to preserve food at a cold temperature - ตู้เย็น
  • hidden agenda: a secret reason for doing something because you will get an advantage from it - เบื้องหน้าเบื้องหลัง; วาระซ่อนเร้น
  • illegal: against the law - ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย
  • incident: something that happens, usually something bad - เหตุการณ์
  • investigate: to try to find out the facts about something in order to learn the truth about it - ตรวจสอบหาความจริง
  • involved (verb): taking part or having a role in something - เกี่ยวข้อง, มีบทบาท
  • lawyer: an attorney - ทนาย
  • laymen (noun): people who are members of a temple or a church but who are not a priest or member of the clergy - สามัญชน
  • legally: correct according to the law - ตามกฎหมาย
  • linked: connected - เชื่อมโยง เกี่ยวกับ
  • living quarters: rooms that are provided for people (monks, soldiers, workers, servants, etc.) to live in - ที่พักอาศัย
  • meanwhile: at the same time - ในเวลาเดียวกัน
  • media: radio, television, newspaper, the Internet, considered as a group - สื่อ
  • media conference (noun): press conference; an official meeting where someone makes a formal statement about a particular issue or event to journalists and answers their questions about it - การแถลงข่าว
  • microchip (noun): a very small piece of a material that is a semiconductor, used to carry a complicated electronic circuit - ชิ้นซิลิคอนขนาดเล็กที่เก็บแผงวงจรไฟฟ้า, ไมโครชิป, แผ่นชิป
  • misconduct: unacceptable or bad behaviour by someone in a position of authority or responsibility - การประพฤติผิด
  • MP: member of parliament - สมาชิกรัฐสภา
  • news conference: press conference; an official meeting where someone makes a formal statement about a particular issue or event to journalists and answers their questions about it - การแถลงข่าว
  • obtain: to get something that you want or need, especially by going through a process that is difficult - ได้มา, ได้รับ
  • on behalf of: as a representative of - ในนามของ ในฐานะของ
  • portrayed: represented or described someone or something - พรรณา
  • preserved (verb): to prevent something from decaying by treating it in a particular way, especially by using chemicals - หมัก
  • raid (noun): a short (surprise) attack on an enemy or group - การจู่โจม,การโจมตี, การบุกเข้า
  • registered (adj): to be on an official list; to be on an official list of names of people who are allowed to do something, e.g., vote, study, sell something, stay in a hotel etc - ซึ่งลงทะเบียนไว้
  • relocation: the process of moving someone or something to a new place - การย้ายที่ใหม่
  • represent: to act, speak or be present officially for another person or people - เป็นตัวแทน
  • responsible for: to have a duty to do something - มีความรับผิดชอบ
  • search (verb): to look somewhere carefully in order to find someone/something - ค้นหา
  • seizure: the act of taking control of something, especially by using power or force - การบุกเข้ายึด
  • smuggling: secretly and illegally taking goods or people into or out of a country or place - การลักลอบ
  • talisman: an object that is thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck - เครื่องราง, สิ่งนำโชค
  • trading: the activity of buying and selling things - การซื้อขาย, การค้าขาย
  • unaware: not understanding or realising something - ซึ่งไม่รู้ตัวมาก่อน
  • veterinarian: a person with a medical degree trained to take care of the health of animals - สัตวแพทย์
  • wildlife: animals, birds, insects, etc. that are wild and live in a natural environment - สัตว์ป่า
  • wonder: to think about something because you want to know more facts or details about it - สงสัย
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