News at Tipitaka Network
Draft law to strengthen Buddhism criticised as 'draconian'
AKI, Friday, November 2, 2007
Bangkok (Thailand) A draft law, purportedly meant to strengthen the stance of Buddhism in Thailand, is coming under fire with critics calling it "draconian" and "politically motivated".
The draft, currently discussed by lawmakers, was proposed by 179 members of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), some of whom were also behind the failed push to include Buddhism as the national religion in the 2007 Constitution.
The signatories argue that “the law is needed as there is not one protecting and promoting Buddhism and looking after the faithful.”
In Thailand, where 95 percent of the 65 million people are Buddhists, there is currently only one law that regulate Buddhist monks, who account for 0.5 percent of the faithful.
Critics, however, have voiced concerns.
In an article for the The Bangkok Post, veteran journalist and commentator Sanitsuda Ekachai slammed the law. He also warned that, if it were approved, it would lead to a further distancing of the average Thai from the monks.
“This draft bill is essentially about clinging to power and selfishness. It is yet another proof of how far our clergy has drifted away from the Buddha's way,” he said.
“Declining public trust in the clergy stems from its closed, feudalistic system based on dictatorial power which rewards ambitious, greedy monks. Strengthening this feudal system can lead us nowhere but downward,” he added.
The draft bill sets a jail term of 10-25 years and/or a fine of 500,000-1,000,000 baht [11,000 to 22,000 euro] for insulting, offending, imitating and distorting Buddhism and the Buddha and a jail term of 5-10 years and/or a fine of 100,000-500,000 baht for damaging Buddhist objects, personnel and places.
People who have any form of sexual affair with monks, novices and nuns are liable to five to 10 years in jail and/or a fine of 100,000-500,000 baht.
However, the bill does not include any punishments for monks, novices and nuns who engage in sexual relations.
Punishment for physically assaulting monks, novices and nuns would be three times those stipulated by law.
The bill acknowledges the status of nuns as Buddhist priestesses for the first time on the condition they must be ordained by an abbot or a person authorised by an abbot.
Furthermore, the draft bill states that any state policies in support of Buddhism must also be supportive of the clergy's central governing body and administrative structures.
Buddhist News Features:
Sunday, May 19, 2019 Vesak Extra!
Tuesday, May 29, 2018 Vesak Extra!
Wednesday, May 10, 2017 Vesak Extra!
Women in contemporary Buddhism: A challenge for the 21st century
Significance of Esala Poya: A conqueror conceived
A Buddhist perspective on women`s liberation
Has mindfulness become just another wing of capitalism?
Bahujan Rangbhoomi event highlights Buddhist caves
How an 8th-century Jewish text ended up in a Buddhist cave temple in China
Nara Great Buddha cleaned before Bon festival
Buddhist statue exhibition held at National Museum of China in Beijing
Monk builds pagoda on Koh Pha Ngan out of beer bottles
Drought reveals submerged Buddhist temple in Thailand
Christian Europe once celebrated the story of Buddha without even knowing it
The day the most amazing Dunhuang Library was discovered
US Library of Congress makes available online rare 2,000-year-old text of early Buddhism
A play depicting the life journey of Gautam Buddha staged in Lucknow
Guadalupe Buddhist Church celebrates Obon Festival
Buddhists gather in Kendal for retreat
Pieces of Buddhist text discovered in ancient Afghan settlement
Guimet Museum in Paris hosts historic exhibition, “Buddha, the Golden Legend”
Hong Kong (China)
Ven. Yifa brings the monastic code to life at Woodenfish conference
Thich Nhat Hanh honored with inaugural Gandhi Mandela Peace Medal
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammāsambuddhassa.
Buddha sāsana.m cira.m ti.t.thatu.