World Peace Valley found encroaching on state land

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


THE authorities have confiscated three buildings of the World Peace Valley Complex here were found to be encroaching on state land.

Occupying about 480 rai (more than 76 hectares), the World Peace Valley is a vast complex for Buddhist activities and is affiliated with the Dhammakaya Temple in Pathum Thani province. It became a subject of controversy after available evidence showed that the complex might be occupying about 100 rai illegally.

Deputy National Police chief Pol General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul flew over to inspect the site himself yesterday, after which three of the buildings were seized. Seven construction workers at the facility were also arrested on charges of abusing methamphetamine.

Those operating the complex have to date failed to produce land-rights documents for all the land the facility is spanning across.

“The deadline for submitting documents was July 4,” said Narong Kongkham, deputy director-general of the Department of Social Development and Welfare.


The department is looking into this case because parts of the World Peace Valley clearly encroach into the self-sufficient settlement of Lam Takhong, which comes under the department’s jurisdiction.

Normally, all the land in this settlement has to be used for agricultural purposes unless specifically exempted by the department’s chief.

Narong said the operator of the World Peace Valley was seeking approval for operating the complex.

“But before we approve anything, we have to determine whether the complex has completed legitimate processes, including how it sought approval for its construction,” he said.

In a related development, Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief Paisit Wongmuang said yesterday that his agency had summoned five monks who have close ties with Dhammakaya Temple’s controversial abbot Phra Dhammachayo.

“We have to determine who has played what role in the management of the temple and its related foundations, especially in relation to finances,” he said.

A source said the monks who will testify to the DSI tomorrow were Phra Tattachivo, Phra Thawalsak, Phra Maha Somchai, Phra Amnuaysak Munisako and Phra Sutham Suthammo.

“However, Phra Sutham has submitted a request asking that his session be rescheduled to July 21,” he said.

Phra Dhammachayo is wanted on charges of money laundering and accepting ill-gotten gains in connection with funds embezzled from the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative.

The cooperative’s former chief Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, who is serving a jail term for embezzlement, allegedly gave several cheques worth more than Bt1 billion to Phra Dhammachayo, related monks and related foundations.

The DSI plans to pursue several money-laundering cases against Supachai as well.

Apart from the money Supachai allegedly channelled from the cooperative to Phra Dhammachayo, he was also found to have put large sums into a company he had founded as well as given funds to another individual.


DSI probing Boonchai’s call to shield controversial abbot

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation




DTAC founder and chairman Boonchai Bencharongkul is facing a probe for a televised speech that could be seen as an effort to shield Dhammakaya Temple’s controversial abbot from legal proceedings.

Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang said yesterday: “I have already instructed our legal team to check the video clip in which Boonchai has encouraged people to meditate at the Dhammakaya Temple.

“We need to determine whether his speech constitutes the offence of mobilising |people to an illegal gathering [to prevent an arrest].”

Boonchai spoke via the Dhammakaya Temple’s satellite TV station after the DSI tried to search the temple and arrest its abbot, Phra Dhammachayo, last Thursday.

The operation failed as thousands of temple followers demanded that Phra Dhammachayo should surrender only when the country returns to full democracy.

Phra Dhammachayo is wanted on charges of money laundering and accepting of ill-gotten gains in connection with the huge embezzlement scandal at the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative.

Received Bt1.4 bn in cheques

A former chief of the |cooperative, Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, is now serving a long jail term in a related case. Evidence shows Phra Dhammachayo and his foundation received Bt1.4 billion from Supachai.

National Police Office deputy spokesman Pol |Maj-General Songphon Wattanachai said yesterday police would definitely take action against Boonchai if |further investigation showed he had an ulterior motive in encouraging people to head to the Dhammakaya Temple.

Songphon also pointed out that still photos and video recordings around the Dhammakaya Temple on Thursday were being examined as evidence for proceeding against people who were seen as obstructing the DSI-led operation to arrest Phra Dhammachayo.

Asked about reports that big tycoons and important government figures were affiliated with Phra Dhammachayo, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan said he did not know who these reports referred to.

“But as for me, I have never gone to the Dhammakaya Temple,” he said.

In a related development, Ruangkrai Leekitwattana of the Pheu Thai Party submitted a complaint with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) yesterday against the DSI, claiming that its raid at the Dhammakaya Temple may have been illegitimate.

“It requested the search warrant after it had already forwarded the case to public prosecutors. By law, the DSI should not have any power to investigate the case further after the case reaches the public prosecutors,” Ruangkrai said.

Dhammachayo put on Immigration blacklist

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


A child is made to pay respects before a large picture of Wat Dhammakaya’s controversial abbot Phra Dhammachayo in the temple complex yesterday.

A child is made to pay respects before a large picture of Wat Dhammakaya’s controversial abbot Phra Dhammachayo in the temple complex yesterday.

Move aims to stop abbot from fleeing country; 14 followers face legal action for obstructing monk’s arrest.

PHRA DHAMMACHAYO, the controversial abbot of Dhammakaya Temple, has been officially blacklisted by the Immigration Bureau, effectively blocking him from leaving the country.

At least 14 people face legal action for trying to shield the abbot from authorities’ attempts to arrest him on Thursday.

“The Immigration Bureau has already blacklisted him [the abbot]. He won’t be able to travel out of the country,” Deputy national police commissioner Pol General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said yesterday.

On Thursday, thousands of white-clad followers showed up at the Dhammakaya Temple in support of Phra Dhammachayo. Their sheer number foiled the operation to scour the expansive monastery and arrest its abbot.


The followers announced that Phra Dhammachayo should surrender to face charges of money laundering and accepting ill-gotten gains only after the country returns to full democracy. They made clear their stance even as officials were armed with a search warrant for the premises and an arrest warrant for Phra Dhammachayo.

The activities by many of these followers were seen as clear attempts to obstruct officials from doing their duty.

“The Department of Special Investigation [DSI] has already lodged complaints against several suspects and submitted still photos along with video recordings as evidence,” Srivara said yesterday.

These suspects will be charged with obstructing officials’ operation, assisting a suspect, and violating the Public Assembly Act.

Phra Dhammachayo, on his part, has been facing legal action in connection with the alleged embezzlement of billions of baht from the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative.

According to the DSI, evidence shows Phra Dhammachayo and his foundation allegedly received more than Bt1.4 billion in cheques from Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, a former chief of the cooperative, who is now serving a jail term in a related embezzlement case.

Criminal proceedings against Phra Dhammachayo remain valid, even though his followers have returned the money to the cooperative in the hope of bailing him out of trouble.

Lawyers for Phra Dhammachayo have claimed all along that he is innocent as he openly received financial donations. But the monk has not answered the DSI summons, claiming he is too ill to do so since the scandal broke out.

Justice Minister General Paiboon Koomchaya yesterday urged the public to help pressure Phra Dhammachayo to face the judicial process.

Fear of violence

He said while the deployment of soldiers and police could definitely bring Phra Dhammachayo out of the temple, the move might trigger violence.

“Our operation, therefore, also focuses on avoiding any clash,” he said in response to criticism about the failure of authorities to bring Phra Dhammachayo to justice.

Pol Colonel Piyapong Klinphan, a spokesman for the National Council for Peace and Order, said Thursday’s operation exposed the political affiliation of followers at Dhammakaya Temple.

“By saying Phra Dhammachayo’s surrender will take place only when democracy returns, they have shown where they stand politically,” he said.

He said Thursday’s operation also made it possible to have a clearer view of the expansive Dhammakaya Temple.

Piyapong said authorities had received words that many people from the Northeast and several monks from the South headed to Dhammakaya Temple, which sits in Pathum Thani province, earlier this week.

“We will look into how such a huge number of people gathered at the Dhammakaya Temple and how they behaved,” he said.

Piyapong revealed that officials had also investigated the flow of finances to Dhammakaya Temple.

“It’s strange that the temple also has a giant balloon and a drone. Of what use are such tools for true Dharma practice?” he asked.

Meanwhile, police from Pathum Thani’s Klong Luang Station yesterday confiscated two temple vehicles that blocked road traffic. They were parked between two canals near the temple.

Some vehicles such as backhoes were used to block the temple’s gates.


Dhammachayo case hinges on new medical diagnosis

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


THE MEDICAL Council of Thailand will assign a team of seven doctors next week to examine Phra Dhammachayo, abbot of Dhammakaya Temple, if the monk gives his consent and allows the team to make details of their diagnosis public, council president Dr Somsak Lolekha said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday ordered an investigation into the alleged involvement of the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) after former UDD guards have reportedly been seen inside Dhammakaya Temple, which has put up barbed wire and other defences around the temple compound.

The premier said precautionary measures would be taken to prevent a repeat of the 2010 violent clash between protesters and law enforcement as the abbot refuses to hear charges against him brought by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on money-laundering and related charges.

Loyal disciples

The government is worried there could be dangerous incidents because a large number of disciples believe the abbot is innocent, while the DSI has evidence to prosecute the monk on charges of money laundering and receiving ill-gotten wealth in connection with a bankrupt savings cooperative.


Prayut said the government has to ensure the safety of everyone in the compound, where supporters have set up checkpoints controlling the flow of people. According to the premier, there are an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people inside the temple, and if anyone is injured there will be serious consequences.

A doctor who treated Phra Dhammachayo earlier submitted a request to the Medical Council of Thailand to send medical specialists to diagnose the monk, since the DSI and other authorities need verification about the monk’s deep vein thrombosis condition.

In response, council president Somsak said the professional grouping would only be involved if there is written consent from the monk for the council to examine him and he allows them to make the details of the diagnosis public.

Somsak said two members of the council and five other specialists would be assigned to verify the monk’s condition premised on a previous diagnosis.

Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang, director-general of the DSI, said an independent medical verification is needed before authorities could determine if they have to formally deliver the charges inside the temple, since an earlier statement on the abbot’s condition issued by a nearby hospital is invalid.

If Phra Dhammachayo is seriously ill and there is sufficient medical reason for him to remain at the temple, the DSI could enter the temple to serve charges, Paisit said, adding that if the monk does not allow an independent medical verification then there is no other choice but to enter the compound.

Meanwhile, supporters have put up a large sign at one of the Pathum Thani compound’s entrances, which says the temple is for prayers and not affiliated with any political groups, in response to the reports about former UDD guards.

About 300 monks from Nakorn Ratchasima and nearby provinces also visited the temple yesterday to show moral support for Phra Dhammachayo.


Fears of bloodshed over abbot

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


But Paiboon Says govt has received help from clergy.

PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed concern yesterday that tough action against Phra Dhammachayo, the abbot of Dhammakaya Temple, who is facing money-laundering and related charges, could lead to deadly violence.

The premier was non-committal on the timeline to enforce the court-approved arrest warrant for the controversial monk since the government does not want to see the issue escalate into clashes between disciples and law enforcement.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has also prepared personnel and equipment that it may need to arrest the abbot, in the event that he firmly refuses to surrender.

Barbed wire, after all, has already gone up at a key building in the Dhammakaya Temple in Pathum Thani province, as if to thwart any attempt by officials to stage a raid and make an arrest.


Meanwhile, interior minsiter Anupong Paochinda said the monk should hear the charges and fight his case in the court, as law enforcement authorities are following procedures to have a court trial.

However, the popular temple has a large number of disciples nationwide so the government has to handle this case with great care to avoid chaos.

Anupong said the belief among some followers that the monk is innocent could not end the legal proceedings in this criminal case.

However, efforts to bring the abbot to legal proceedings have now received good cooperation from some senior monks.

Phra Dhammachayo is facing charges of money-laundering and accepting ill-gotten gains over his alleged role in the big embezzlement at the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC).

Justice Minister General Paiboon Koomchaya said yesterday officials would proceed carefully and had already discussed the matter with senior monks in the country.

“We have received good cooperation,” he said about the recent discussions between the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief Paisit Wongmuang and Pathum Thani’s monastic chief.

The Criminal Court approved the warrant to arrest Phra Dhammachayo on May 18 after the monk has failed repeatedly to answer DSI summonses over the embezlement scandal.

Supachai Sriaupa-aksorn, the former president of the cooperative and a disciple of Dhammakaya Temple, was convicted of embezzling money from KCUC. He was found to have donated many hundreds of millions of baht to Phra Dhammachayo.

“We hope the followers of the abbot won’t resort to breaking laws or obstructing the operations by officials,” Paiboon said.

He noted that thousands of victims had lost all their money because of embezzlement at the KCUC.

“If we don’t nail down culprits first, victims won’t be able to get their money back. By laws, a final court ruling is needed before stolen assets can be given back to the original owners.

‘What about Klongchan victims?’

Followers of Phra Dhammchayo should have empathy for the KCUC victims, he said, and understand that the monk can defend himself in court.

Phra Maha Nopporn Poonyachayor, assistant director of corporate communications at Dhammakaya Temple, told a press conference yesterday he was worried about the use of force because a huge number of people were practising Dhamma inside the temple.

“We hope officials won’t try to use force in arresting the abbot,” he said.

This monk said he had heard from media that the DSI had already sought police backup and a helicopter in preparation for making the arrest.

National Police Commissioner Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda said police would deploy 600 policemen in support of the DSI operation.

“If necessary, I will approve the deployment,” he said.

Meanwhile, Phra Buddha Isara called on the monastic chief of Region 1 to remove Phra Dhammachayo from the helm of Dhammakaya Temple. “He has violated monastic laws and damaged Buddhism. He should be removed,” Buddha Isara, who was active in rallies two years ago, said.


Thousands shield abbot

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Anan Wijitpracha
The Nation

MORE THAN 10,000 people entered Dhammakaya Temple yesterday in a show of support for its embattled abbot Phra Dhammachayo, as authorities sought a way to arrest the high-profile monk.

The controversial monk is wanted on charges of money laundering and accepting ill-gotten gains in relation to his alleged role in a massive embezzlement case involving the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative.

The cooperative’s former chief Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, who gave hundreds of million of baht to Phra Dhammachayo, has already been sentenced to jail.

The arrest warrant for Phra Dhammachayo was issued on May 18 after the monk repeatedly failed to answer summonses issued by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI). Authorities have said they do not believe the claim that he is too ill to be interviewed by DSI officials.


Last week, Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya said the DSI had planned five steps designed to lead to the abbot’s arrest, although the exact date of the arrest would be determined by authorities in a bid to prevent an escalation of tensions.

The department will send a letter to the Sangha Council in an effort to get senior monks involved in trying to resolve the issue.

On Saturday, the DSI used a drone and police helicopters to survey routes in and around Dhammakaya Temple as part of the plan to arrest the abbot.

Tambon Klong Sam Administrative Organisation chairman Weerasak Hadda yesterday led 150 villagers in organising a somtam (spicy papaya salad) party at one of the temple’s gates.

“We are here because we are grateful for the help the temple extended to us during the 2011 floods,” Wassana Cheeva-osot, one of the villagers, said.

She said the temple had sent relief items to her village every day until all the floodwater was gone.

“So, we can’t stay idle now. From what we see in the media, we feel Phra Dhammachayo and his temple are not receiving fair treatment,” she added.

Wassana and locals from Tambon Klong Sam brought banners declaring their support for Phra Dhammachayo.

The names of their food items also reaffirmed their support. For example, one somtam item was called “Somtam of Gratitude” while a noodle item was named “Noodle of Temple Love”.

Participants at the party received free food, snacks and water.

Wassana also admitted that Phra Dhammachayo supporters parked an excavator truck in front of a gate to prevent unwanted persons from coming in.

Dressed in white, young volunteers of Dhammakaya Temple showed up at the entrance to welcome supporters.

The temple’s officials and local police jointly checked vehicles coming into the temple compound to prevent people from trying to wreak havoc.

Darawan Yotarat, 49, travelled from Bangkok to the temple in Pathum Thani province for the first time yesterday because she has faith in Phra Dhammachayo.

“Although I had never come here before, it’s his advice that makes it possible for me and my son to meditate. After meditation, my son’s behaviour has improved. So, I really trust Phra Dhammachayo,” she said.

She believes in his claim of innocence.

“And like all his followers here, I am ready to defend him and Wat Dhammakaya,” she said.


Operation to arrest abbot may involve 2,000 officials

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


THE DEPARTMENT of Special Investigation (DSI) used a drone and a police chopper to survey routes in and around the Pathum Thani-based Dhammakaya Temple yesterday as part of a plan to arrest its controversial abbot Phra Dhammachayo, a DSI source said.

More than 2,200 police and |military personnel will be used to guard the temple’s 15 entrances |during an arrest operation, the source said.

The source said investigators were analysing money transac-|tions of the people who provided financial support to the temple to cover the cost of transport, meals, and around-the-clock security in order to propose impounding their assets.

The source said these people may be charged with assisting someone alleged to have committed an offence to avoid prosecution.

Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya revealed the DSI had established five steps leading to the abbot’s arrest, though the exact date of the arrest would be determined by the authorities so as to prevent an escalation of tensions.


It would send a letter to the Sangha Council in a bid to get senior monks involved in trying to resolve the issue, Paiboon said, adding that the case report would be concluded soon and submitted to the public prosecutor to decide whether to indict the monk.

Dhammakaya Temple disciples urged the DSI to postpone the abbot’s arrest pending the results of their request for the Appeals Court to revoke the May 18 arrest warrant for the abbot and having a neutral doctor examine the abbot, who the temple claims is ill.

In response, DSI chief Colonel Paisit Wongmuang affirmed the agency would proceed as per the warrant.

Speaking on behalf of the disciples, Ong-art Thamnitha told the press that the appeal by the temple’s lawyer to have the arrest warrant cancelled was ongoing so the DSI should postpone any action under the warrant. That would ensure |justice was served and no one was aggrieved, he said.

He also said police should hold off until the Medical Council of Thailand’s decision on whether to have a medical team examine the 72-year-old abbot. The abbot’s “illness” has been cited as the reason for him to not meet DSI officials at their head office to hear charges of money laundering and receiving stolen property.

Staff and police yesterday checked all vehicles going into the premises.

A lot of placards in support of Phra Dhammachayo were posted at the temple by disciples on Friday night. One read: “Luang Por is the leader of goodness. Hurting him is the equivalent of hurting Buddhism.” Another read: “We encourage DSI to provide justice to Luang Por.”

Within the temple’s Kaew Sarapatneuk Hall, some 5,000 |disciples meditated. Many said that they still had faith in the abbot.

Company executive Pornpen Taengcharoenpanich, 51, said: “I believe the abbot is innocent and there are unfair things going on here. To people who don’t know Dhammakaya, you don’t need to fear us. We are peaceful, polite and unarmed people who love doing merit, meditation, maintaining precepts and praying in accordance with Lord Buddha’s teachings.”

She insisted the monk had been ill for years but had forced himself to teach people so they could find happiness and peace.

A Suphan Buri-based merchant, Wattana Chandrakulsiri, 65, said she was worried about the monk’s illness, so she joined fellow |disciples to make merit for him. She was confident he was innocent.


Dhammachayo too ill to travel, DSI told

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


THE controversial Dhammakaya Temple has said its abbot Phra Dhammachayo is seriously ill and has been advised to refrain from travelling for up to four months and wants officers to interview him at the temple tomorrow instead of at the Department of Special Investigation, as requested.

Phra Sanitwong Wuttiwangso, director of communications at Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Pathum Thani province, yesterday told a press conference that the abbot was unable to meet officials at the DSI office at 9am tomorrow and instead wants to meet them at the temple at 2pm.

He said the monk became seriously ill after forcing himself to attend an April 22 ceremony and his condition had got worse. He claimed the monk’s left leg had swollen further since early this month and doctors had treated it.

Vascular surgery expert Dr Thanakhom Premprapa said Phra Dhammachayo suffered from chronic deep venous thrombosis and his body had adjusted by expanding a secondary vein to allow blood to flow back to the heart, as seen in a magnetic resonance venography result. Thanakhom said the swollen leg and acute pain occurred because the secondary vein was clogged and blood stayed in the leg, resulting in high pressure in leg tissue that could lead to amputation.

Hematology expert Dr Siripong Patanathanawisut said the secondary vein clogging also raised the chance that a blood clot could occur and clog the lung’s vein resulting in death.


He said the abbot must avoid physical activities, while a chronic wound in the monk’s ankle was due to high blood pressure and diabetes.

Emergency medicine expert Dr Atchariya Phaengma said a team of physicians had provided medicine to the monk and instructed him to keep the left leg raised above the heart so blood could flow to the heart better. They also advised him to refrain from travelling for two to four months.

Phra Sanitwong said the abbot did not intend to avoid or stall DSI officials and the temple was willing to send doctors to the DSI to explain the situation.

He said the temple would welcome the DSI having neutral doctors check Phra Dhammachayo prior to the meeting. The DSI has summoned the monk twice to acknowledge charges of collusion in relation to alleged money laundering and receiving ill-gotten gains but the monk didn’t show up. The charges relate to cheques he received from Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative’s former chairman Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, who is accused of embezzling billions of baht from the cooperative.

The abbot returned hundreds of millions of baht after Supachai’s alleged embezzlement was exposed.