Temple 'broke law' building six bridges

Temple 'broke law' building six bridges

Dhammakaya sect founder Dhammajayo, if he ever is found and arrested, could face six additional charges of building illegal public bridges near his temple. (Bangkok Post file photos)
Dhammakaya sect founder Dhammajayo, if he ever is found and arrested, could face six additional charges of building illegal public bridges near his temple. (Bangkok Post file photos)

Pathum Thani: Authorities confirmed Wednesday that Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Klong Luang district, as previously suspected, had broken the law in building a number of public bridges to control access to the temple.

Thanaporn Phromphan, a senior official with the Treasury Department, said that out of eight public bridges constructed by the temple, only two won approval before they were constructed.

He was speaking after taking part in Wednesday's inspection of one of the bridges, a pedestrian bridge running over Liap Klong Sam Road in Klong Luang district of Pathum Thani, which lies just in front of Gate 4 of the temple.

The bridge inspection was carried out by Pathum Thani police, the Treasury Department, the Pathum Thani provincial administrative office and the Royal Irrigation Department.

Even the two bridges built with permission are being blocked by the temple from being used for public purposes as they were intended to be, said Mr Thanaporn, adding that legal action will be carried out to enforce the law regarding the construction and use of the bridges.

He said the temple will be ordered to unblock the bridges and officials will then decide whether to demolish those built without permission.

Since all the bridges technically belong to the Finance Ministry, the authorities will have to weigh up the pros and cons of having them dismantled, he said.

Prayong Preeyachitt, secretary-general of the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission, said on Tuesday the office also was probing whether the temple had broken the law in building the bridges.

Meanwhile, state officials involved in the plan to raid the temple and arrest its former abbot Phra Dhammajayo have been ordered to avoid discussing the operation with the media.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he had instructed all involved in the temple operation to avoid talking to reporters about the matter.

He said the abbot controversy should be dealt with like any other case to avoid triggering new conflicts that may prevent the country from moving forward.

Such conflicts could erupt as a result of "someone" refusing to abide by the law while continuing to abuse the faith and beliefs of certain people as a shield, said Gen Prayut, apparently referring to Phra Dhammajayo.

Everyone has to follow the rules and begin by setting a good example to others, he said, adding that in this way, the country can proceed with its reforms.

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