Govt 'sorry' over man's suicide over S44
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Govt 'sorry' over man's suicide over S44

About 300 monks from other temples sit in front of Gate 7 on Sunday to support Wat Phra Dhammakaya. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
About 300 monks from other temples sit in front of Gate 7 on Sunday to support Wat Phra Dhammakaya. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the government have expressed their condolences over the death of an elderly man who hanged himself on Saturday night after climbing a telephone signal tower to demand the lifting of the Section 44 order to control Wat Phra Dhammakaya.

"The prime minister and the government would like to extended condolences to the man's family," government spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said on Sunday.

He said authorities had tried their best to talk to the man and were preparing to save his life, but were not successful. He described what happened as "force majeure".

"This should serve as an admonition to society, particularly supporters of Wat Phra Dhammakaya, both monks and disciples, that they should not have allowed this to happened," he said.

"They should not use the faithfulness of innocent people to protect a handful of wrongdoers. In the end, they came out to say the man was not a disciple of the temple.

"Moreover, the order under Section 44 should not be taken as a cause for the man's death. What is happening to Wat Phra Dhammakaya is about a wrongdoer who has not only refused to accept the legal consequences but also turned to take an advantage of other people and resorted to using mob rule to avoid the law.  

"Concerning this matter, the authorities have to enforce the law otherwise they can be seen as being neglectful of their duty."

Witnesses told the media that at about 4pm on Saturday the man, who has not yet been identified, walked from the Khlong Luang market with a piece of cardboard to the telephone signal tower. He took off his shoes and climbed up the tower.

After going up about 30 metres, he showed a message written on the cardboard demanding the revocation of the order under Section 44 by 9pm, otherwise he would then be dead.

A number of monks from temples affiliated to Wat Phra Dhammakaya tried to talk the man into climbing down. At the same time, rescuers from the Ruam Katanyu and Por Teck Tung foundations laid down air cushions on the ground, in case he decided to jump.

At about 9pm, the man tied a rope around his neck, and hanged himself by dropping down about five metres from where he stood. Rescuers rushed up the tower in a bid to save the man.  

They finally managed to cut the rope, get hold of the man and bring him down to the ground about 30 minutes later, but he was already dead.

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