Buddhist group warns it will escalate Somdet Chuang campaign
The Buddhism Protection Centre of Thailand (BPCT) pledged Tuesday to take its campaign nationwide if the prime minister does not submit the Sangha Supreme Council's (SSC) nomination of Somdet Phra Maha Ratchamangalacharn as the new supreme patriarch for royal endorsement within a week.
The BCPT supports the SSC's nomination of Somdet Phra Maha Ratchamangalacharn, the abbot of Wat Pak Nam Phasi Charoen, as the new supreme patriarch. The abbot is widely known as Somdet Chuang.
Phra Methithammajarn, secretary-general of the BPCT, posted a new message on his Facebook page, saying a network of believers he called the Buddha Organisation and its allies will wait and see for a week to how the situation turns out before they decide on a possible escalation nationwide.
The group reacted Tuesday after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Monday he would not rush into nominating a new supreme patriarch even though the Council of State has cleared the way for the nomination of Somdet Chuang as leader of the monastic circle.
In response to Gen Prayut's statement about the supreme patriarch nomination, Phra Methithammajarn said on his Facebook page the group had held an urgent meeting and resolved to stress its call for the premier to submit the nomination for royal endorsement.
The group also urged the prime minister to listen to all groups involved and observe the importance of maintaining harmony among the Sangha clergy.
The Phra Methithammajarn-led group also urged its opponents to stop attempting to tactically derail the submission of the supreme patriarch nomination.
Gen Prayut reacted furiously when asked to comment on Phra Methithammajarn's remarks, saying he would never tolerate such a "mess" and anyone who dared flout the National Council for Peace and Order's ban on gatherings of more than five people will face legal action.
Also on Tuesday, Paiboon Nititawan, the ex-chairman of the defunct National Reform Council committee on religious affairs, submitted a letter to Gen Prayut opposing the submission of the nomination of Somdet Chuang as the 20th supreme patriarch.
He argued Somdet Chuang is still facing a criminal investigation by the Department of Special Investigation into his allegedly unlawful possession of a classic Mercedes-Benz.
Mr Paiboon also said he has petitioned the DSI to probe Somdet Chuang for alleged dereliction of duty in his attempts to help the embattled abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya, Phra Dhammajayo.
Questions have also been raised over whether Somdet Chuang has violated the dhamma winai disciplinary code of conduct of Buddhist monks that prohibits monks from receiving money and spending it to buy goods, said Mr Paiboon.
Somdet Chuang had been found to have written cheques to the owners of garages regarding the vintage Mercedes-Benz, said Mr Paiboon, calling on the government to set up an independent panel to look into the matter.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam and Raksagecha Chaechai, secretary-general of the Office of the Ombudsman, insisted the premier has the authority to screen the SSC's nomination of Somdet Chuang before he considers submitting it for royal endorsement.