Clergy head tries to quell monk row

The acting Supreme Patriarch has attempted to end a conflict between two senior monks at Wat Sa Ket which is believed to have ignited accusations of the abbot's unusual wealth.

Temple abbot Phra Phromsuthi is facing criticism on social media for allegedly owning several businesses, including a 500-million-baht property development project.

The monk denied the accusations, which emerged after 19-page leaflets implicating him in inappropriate behaviour were sent to senior monks and then posted online on Monday.

The documents went public amid an unfolding conflict with the temple's assistant abbot Phra Phromsitthi, according to media reports.

Phra Phromsuthi recently admitted he had reassigned his assistant's responsibilities after Phra Phromsitthi wanted to make changes to the way the temple is run, following the departure of the former abbot.

Supreme Patriarch, Somdej Phra Maha Ratchamangalacharn, summoned the monks yesterday, according to a source at the National Office of Buddhism.

"The Supreme Patriarch is upset by the issue. He does not want it to escalate and would like the two sides to end their conflict," the source said.

Reporters could not reach the monks yesterday.

A close aide to Phra Phromsitthi said the monk wanted to keep a low profile to avoid harming the temple's image.

Meanwhile, the younger brother of Phra Phromsuthi, Ekkawat Fangmuk, yesterday defended his brother against allegations of unusual wealth.

Mr Ekkawat said he ran a property business mentioned in news reports, not his brother.

He said his company was overseeing a modest housing estate project on a 20 rai plot, not the 100 rai reported.

"I started the business with registered capital of only 20 million baht," Mr Ekkawat said.

He also defended his brother against reports the monk owned luxury cars and fighting cocks, saying that his disciples and politicians had given these items to the monk as gifts.

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