Tag Archives: Fascist Monks

Rumble at the Temple

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

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Prayut with his favourite fascist monk

Following the appointment of Umporn Prasattapong, Abbot of Wat Ratchabopit as the new Supreme Patriarch, the cog-wheels of the military junta are turning in unison with those of the fascist monk “Putta-Isara”. The military have now launched a full scale attack on the Dammakeye Buddhist sect.

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Umporn was appointed by Generalissimo Prayut, although according to procedure, he was officially appointed by King Wachiralongkorn. We all know how much Wachiralongkorn knows about or follows Buddhist teachings!

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Previously the guy in line for the top monk job was Chuang Sudprasert, the abbot of Wat Pak Nam and acting Supreme Patriarch, but he was accused by the Department of Special Investigation of forging documents over the importation of old classic cars in order to avoid tax. Previously Chuang had praised Prayut’s military junta in July 2014, hoping to become Supreme Patriarch. Chuang was believed to be close to the monks from the Dammakeye (Dhammakaya) sect.

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Dammakeye is a huge sect with a massive flying saucer shaped temple just north of Bangkok. It is steeped in scandal and accusations of accumulating untold riches. Urban middle class followers believe that the more you donate, the more merit you acquire. They also believe that people are poor because they sinned in their past life. Rich and powerful people have supported this sect for in the past.

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Chaiboon Sittipon or “Tammachayo”, abbot of Dammakeye, is currently trying to avoid arrest on corruption charges. Prayut used his dictatorial “Article 44” to order the police to invade the Dammakeye compound in a failed attempt to arrest him. Hundreds of Dammakeye monks and followers had a number of confrontations with the police. One man has tragically taken his own life in protest against this crack-down. Many are rightly questioning whether “Tammachayo”, or anyone else for that matter, can ever get a fair trial in the junta controlled courts.

The military dictatorship has also used Article 44 to place a police general in the post of director of the national office of Buddhism.

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We must condemn the military junta for using its illegitimate power to try to crush Dammakeye. People should be free to believe or not to believe in any religion of their choosing.

We must also condemn any Buddhist monks, including supporters of Dammakeye, who incite hatred towards Muslims. The extremist anti-Muslim Burmese monk “Wirathu” has come out in support of Dammakeye.

Make no mistake, the side-lining of the abbot of Wat Pak Nam for the top monk job and the invasion of Dammakeye is totally about politics and little to do with corruption or Buddhist morals. After all, the junta has remained very quiet about the corruption of Generalissimo Prayut’s relatives and the fact that top generals and their allies are getting paid for their various jobs, even though they never turn up to do any work or attend meetings.

The abbot of Wat Pak Nam was deemed unacceptable to the junta because Prayut’s favourite fascist monk, Putta-Isara, and the yellow shirts, did not want the Pak Nam and Dammakeye factions to be in a position of power.

We should never forget that fascist monk Putta-Isara helped to wreck the February 2014 elections alongside Sutep’s mob. Putta-Isara’s followers used fire arms to intimidate those wishing to vote. Because he is Generalissimo Prayut’s favourite monk, he was recently allowed a free hand to demonstrate in the streets while others were prohibited. He has also accused Dammakeye of wanting to “overthrow the monarchy”, a standard charge against one’s opponents in Thailand. After Prayut’s strong-arm tactics against Dammakeye, Putta-Isara publically thanked him.

An anti-government protester shoots his rifle, hidden it inside a sack, toward pro-government protesters during clashes in Bangkok February 1, 2014. Dozens of gunshots and at least two explosions raised tension amid anti-government protests in Thailand's capital on Saturday, a day ahead of a general election seen as incapable of restoring stability in the deeply polarised country. REUTERS/Nir Elias (THAILAND - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)

All this fighting between Buddhist sects and the involvement of the military junta, merely strengthen the argument that religion should be totally separated from the state and that religious hierarchies and top positions like the Supreme Patriarch, should be abolished.

Fascist Monks and Thai Politics

Numnual  Yapparat

Red Shirts have been widely criticising the role of Luang Pu Buddha Isara who is Sutep’s pet fascist monk. This monk behaved as a thug, leading supporters to block the Lak-see polling station where Sutep’s gang brought in gunmen to attack those who wanted to vote. He claims that he is a “moral protector” and therefore he has to get rid of the Prime Minister because her family is corrupt. This is laughable. Sutep has a history of corruption but this monk chose not to say anything.

At the moment lots of people are complaining about Buddha Isara’s role, especially after the Lak-see events. The National office of Buddhism said that they did not have the power to expel Buddha Isara from monkhood. However, they did send a letter to the Buddhist organisation in Nakorn Patom. These Buddhist governing bodies will not allow women to be monks, but accept fascists.

Right-wing monks have a long record of intervening in Thai politics on the side of brutality. None of them are charged for their criminal acts. Kitti-Vutto encouraged his supporters to use violence against the Left. His most infamous words in 1976 were that “killing communists is not immoral; it is a good thing because you save the nation, religion and the king”. These words resulted in violence at Thammasart University that year.

Kitti Putto

(Kitti Putto)

“Syndromes and a Century” is a Thai film. It was produced in 2006 but banned because there is a scene in the film where a monk plays a guitar! Such behaviour is deemed “unacceptable” according to elite Buddhist principles. No doubt it would be OK if a monk made a Nazi salute.

Religion is one of the convenient political tools for the Thai elites. It has been used regularly to divert people from paying attention to government failures or injustice that prevails in society. The Thai State imposes the rule that at all schools in the morning, students have to sing the National Anthem and chant Buddhist prayers. Even some Muslim students were also forced to do so. Every week, Thai students have to attend moral classes.

Scandals about Thai monks have never gone away from newspaper headlines.  Some of them make money out of their disciples and have a lavish lifestyle. Some have a collection of expensive cars or even private planes. Buddhism and its mainstream institutions are very conservative, reactionary and out of touch with reality.

The Buddhist institutions need to be reformed urgently. The first step should be to announce that religion should be a personal thing. Religious ceremonies should not be funded by the state. Religion should not play any role in secular problems such as abortion rights. Monks should be involved in politics as individuals, but the monks who commit criminal acts must be charged with abusing peoples’ rights.