Minister 'sorry' for prayer plan

Minister 'sorry' for prayer plan

Prime Minister's Office Minister Tewan Liptapallop (centre).
Prime Minister's Office Minister Tewan Liptapallop (centre).

Prime Minister's Office Minister Tewan Liptapallop on Wednesday apologised for "unclear" communications on a controversial plan to have monks nationwide gather and pray for Thailand to escape the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier on Wednesday, the minister had said that every temple in Thailand and overseas would be invited to the ceremony, with devotees "sitting outside the ubosot [temple's main hall] to avoid overcrowding" or watching the ceremony's live television broadcast at home, media reports said.

Later in the day, he said "only nine monks" will be invited to preside over the ceremony, and will sit a metre apart from each other in line with the social-distancing measure.

"I have to apologise for unclear communication, which has led to a misunderstanding," Mr Tewan said, adding that devotees will not be allowed to participate in the ceremony, though it will be broadcast live on TV.

"The activity is aimed at boosting people's morale," the minister said.

Mr Tewan said he had floated the idea during Tuesday's cabinet meeting and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had agreed with it, though he did warn against too many people showing up to pray.

Mr Tewan said he told the prime minister he would seek "cooperation" from people to listen to the prayers at home.

However, if they do decide to go to temples, they have to undergo strict preventive measures against Covid-19, he said.

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