Monday, July 27, 2009

Guns, Alcohol, Porn, and Prayer

Photo Courtesy of Matichon Online

SUKHOTHAI - Police Colonel Roengkiat Sothoncharoensin, a superintendent of Kongkairat station in Sukhothai, sent an investigative team led by Lieutenant Bumroong Chaemtet, to search the room of an abbot at Insisrisangwon Temple after complaints were received from villagers about gunshots and suspicious incidents around the area.

Mr. Mongkol Khatphap, the head minister of the province’s Buddhism Community, assisted in the search with Sergeant Major Surasak Imem, deputy of Kongkairat district, along with several other assistant officers.

They seized a shotgun, three handguns of .357 and .38 calibers, and over a hundred bullets. The team also discovered five liters of illegal alcohol, five bottles of beer and whiskey, twelve Viagra tablets, and a stockpile of Pornographic movies.

The abbot testified that the weapons were not his, but belonged to a pawner who came to exchange them for money. Besides implying that he bought these items, he further stated that the alcohol, Viagra, and pornographic movies were shared among his group of disciples and were not his alone. He insisted that he was not directly involved with the illegal items.

“And the gunshots heard in the temple were from my disciples at the monastery committee,” the abbot further explained, “they were just firing off warning shots at a teen motorcycle gang outside. “

The Kongkairat district had previously received complaints from villagers about the abbot’s minacious behavior - he was seen strutting like a gangster with a revolver held over his shoulder, collecting rental fees from market merchants during an annual monastery event.

Police officers had previously arrested a drug dealer residing at Insisrisangwon Temple, seizing up to two thousands amphetamines.

The abbot, Patsaman Thawaro, was arrested and asked to defrock, when twenty villagers impeded the process. The abbot was eventually taken to the police station, still dressed in a saffron robe. The incident caused a great deal of unease for the police officers involved in his arrest.

A small group of villagers are rallying behind the abbot, saying that he developed Insisrisangwon Temple by building new monastic structures, as well as other necessary facilities valued at over thirty million baht.

Other reasons in his defense, are his knowledge of ancient medicines, said to be able to cure diabetes, cancer, and AIDS. The minority group alleged that the abbot had previously been the target of an assassination and urged police officers to allow him to maintain his religious status in order to insure his safety.

Police officers have been unable to convince the villagers to defrock him- and the abbot was taken into custody only on account of illicit possession of lethal weapons and illegal alcoholic beverages. Yet, his monk status has remained untouched.

Courtesy of Matichon Online

Writer: Adrian Tse & Chet Chetchotisak