Buddhist network targets demonstration leader monk

A Buddhist network has asked the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) to take action against monk Luang Pu Buddha Issara, who has been leading the anti-government protest on Chaeng Watthana Road, for violating the royal decree and the election law.

Chaithanapon Srijiwangsa, a representative of a network of Buddhist groups of Thailand, yesterday filed a complaint with the CSD against Luang Pu Buddha Issara.

He complained about his role in leading the People's Democratic Reform Committee's (PDRC) protest stage on Chaeng Watthana Road and leading protesters to block the Laksi district office in order to prevent ballot papers from being delivered to polling stations for Sunday's election.

After filing the complaint, the Buddhist network issued an announcement that the conduct of Luang Pu Buddha Issara, the abbot of Wat Or Noi in Nakhon Pathom province, breached Buddhist teachings, the Criminal Code and the Sangha Act, causing damage to the country and the religion. The monk must be defrocked, demanded the network.

The National Office of Buddhism earlier warned the monk to end his involvement in the PDRC's rallies.

A source said Mr Chaithanapon had twice earlier filed complaints against Luang Pu Buddha Issara for violating rules imposed on monks by the Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand that prohibit monks from being involved in political rallies.

Meanwhile, Luang Pu Buddha Issara yesterday turned down a meeting with representatives from the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) who want to regain use of their office inside the government complex on Chaeng Watthana Road. The monk snubbed the DSI saying it must make an appointment if they want a meeting with him. He was, however, willing to allow DSI representatives to meet him today.

Pol Lt Col Thawal Mangkhang, a special case expert at the DSI, who requested talks with the monk yesterday, said he wanted the monk to allow DSI officials from all units, particularly a unit responsible for providing legal advice to people, to resume work.

Representatives from the Administrative Court, Thailand Post Co, the Royal Armed Forces and traffic police at Thung Song Hong station yesterday met the monk to discuss the travel of officials on Chaeng Watthana Road which is still blocked by protesters.

Luang Pu Buddha Issara and protesters blocked Chaeng Watthana Road on Jan 13 to stop officials from working at the government complex.

Election commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn and his team yesterday also visited Luang Pu Buddha Issara, asking him to open the office located in the government complex.

He told the monk that 1,800 staff need to prepare for municipal council elections that will take place on Feb 23 in many provinces and the Senate election on March 30.

He said he would appreciate Luang Pu Buddha Issara's offer to arrange talks between him and Mr Suthep to discuss a framework for election reform which will benefit the country.

Meanwhile, Nuttavudh Photisaro, deputy permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also met the monk, asking for his support to resume production of passports.

He said the ministry would like to go back to full capacity of making 6,000 passports a day, compared with only 3,000 passports a day at present.

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