Public opinions sought for proposed restructure of the Sangha Supreme Council

The Office of the Council of State (Krisdika) is seeking public opinions and monks on the proposed amendments of the existing Monastic Act with an aim to restructure the Sangha Supreme Council.

Opinions can be sent to the office of the Council of State at www.krisdika.go.th now until June 27.

The council’s move follows the cabinet’s unannounced decision last Tuesday to approve proposed amendments to the monastic law regarding the Sangha Supreme Council in wake of the temple fund scandal which has dented the reputation of the monastic governing body and affected public faith in the monastic order.

Three members of the council namely Phra Phrommasith, abbot of Wat Saket and Region 10 Chaokhana; Phra Phrommethi, assistant abbot of Wat Sam Phraya; and Phra Phrommadilok, abbot of Wat Sam Phraya were dismissed from the Sangha Supreme Council by an order of the Supreme Patriarch in May after they were arrested by the police for alleged involvement in temple fund embezzlement.  Several other senior monks are being implicated in the scandal.

The proposed amendments call for a restructuring of the Sangha Supreme Council with the abolition of the ex-officio memberships reserved for senior monks with the rank of Somdet Phra Rachakhana and empowering His Majesty the King to exercise his prerogative to appoint members of the Sangha Supreme Council from well-qualified senior monks.  HM the King will also be empowered to relieve members of the council.

In accordance with the Monastic Act B.E. 2502 which is still enforceable, the Sangha Supreme Council is made up of two groups of monks – one group consists of monks with the rank of Somdet Phrarachakhana who are ex-officio members of the council and the other group whose members do not exceed 12 are appointed by the Supreme Patriarch from senior monks with the rank of Phra Rachakhana to be in the office for a two-year term.

It was also reasoned that since Somdet Phrarachakhana monks are mostly in their old age who may have a health problem, making it not possible to attend council meetings on regular basis and some of them have to take a break for a long period of time.  The other senior monks in the council may also experience similar health problem.

Another reason cited for the major revamp of the Sangha Supreme Council is the temple fund scandal which has implicated several senior monks, affecting public faith in the monastic order and the credibility of the monastic governing body.

The incumbent remaining members of the Sangha Supreme Council will stay on in the offices until the appointment of a new set of council members by HM the King.