Kham Phaka off the air for one month due to pressure from monks and Buddhists

Sharp-tongued and red-shirt-supporting writer and social critic Kham Phaka has decided to take a one-month break from hosting a television programme on Voice TV after her criticisms against Thai mainstream Buddhist practices last month were met with strong, and nasty, reactions from some monks and Buddhist organizations.   

She will take a break from the weekend programme starting from this Saturday 14 April and will return on 12 May.

This is because she wants to show responsibility and apologize to the ‘Phra Rattanatrai’ [the Triple Gems of Buddha, Dharma and monks] as well as the Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand and other Buddhist organizations across the country for an offence she made in the programme which was aired on 10 March.  Announcing this in her programme on 8 April, she added that the programme will never again encroach upon the Buddhist religion.

In the 10 March programme, Kham Phaka talked about a public campaign to urge youths to download an application to ‘Pray through the New Year’ in a bid to persuade them to abstain from alcohol consumption.  The campaign was run by the Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand, the Office of National Buddhism, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, and some 20 other organizations. 

The Pray through to the New Year campaign, originally initiated by the Network of Organizations for Alcohol Abstention under the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, has been running for three years to persuade the public to stop drinking and, instead, go to temples to pray on New Year’s eve, starting from 10pm to 1 am on the first day of the New Year.

The campaign has been well received by government agencies and temples all over the country which, during last New Year, also advertised it as a good deed for the Thai people to make merit for HM the King on the occasion of his 84th birthday.

Kham Phaka criticized the campaign as nonsensical, as it tried to dictate to the Thai people how ‘happiness’ should be defined in their lives, and oversimplified their problems in everyday life with the simple solution of praying.

Government funds in support of this campaign should have been better used to address the public’s real problems, including, for example, improvements in the infrastructure, instead of persuading them to just sit and pray, she said.

‘This campaign to persuade the public to pray is like giving them a tranquillizer so that they will forget the structural problems, and, instead of questioning the real problems, just blindly pray and let the country go on as it is,’ she said.        

Buddhism has been in this world for over two thousand years, but the world has existed far longer than that, and humans have lived for tens of thousands of years without Buddhism, she said.

‘The belief that Buddhism is the answer to all questions in the cosmos is the starting point to raise Buddhism over and above other religions.  Don’t forget that in this world we have to live with other people who believe in hundred or more other religions.  How can the Buddhist 5 basic precepts, which forbid stealing or killing, etc., be more heavenly divine than the 10 commandments of Christianity?,’ she said.     

On 14 March, monks and Buddhists from the Buddhism Protection Centre of Thailand petitioned the House Committee on Religion, Arts, and Culture to examine Kham Phaka’s comments on the television programme.

They claimed that the comments were made out of ignorance in the Buddhist Dharma, offensive to the Buddhist teachings, in violation of Sections 37 and 79 of the 2007 Constitution and encroaching upon the royal faith in Buddhism in performing royal ceremonies in Thailand where His Majesty the King is proclaimed as a Buddhist, according to Section 9 of the 2007 Constitution. 

Such comments are deemed detrimental to the monarchy and Buddhism in the country, they said.

On the same day, Deputy Secretary General of the Buddhism Protection Centre of Thailand Dr Phra Maha Show Thassaniyo, a red-shirt supporting monk who signed on a petition by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship to seek a royal pardon for Thaksin Shinawatra in 2009, attacked Kham Phaka through an online red-shirt radio programme broadcast by Konthaiuk [Thai people in the UK ] website.

According to Manager/ASTV, Dr Phra Maha Show, who also holds the position of Deputy Director of the Office of Buddhism Promotion and Social Services under the Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, said in the radio interview that, 'Kham Phaka, nicknamed Khaek, who tried to identify herself as a red shirt, was good at catching on social trends.'

‘She wants to be famous.  In the case of Ar Kong [Amphon Tangnoppakul], she stripped herself naked, showing her tits.  … She is a northerner.  She criticized the religion.  This is dangerous. … Teaching morality is useless.  Thailand does not have only one religion. Why do we have official holidays to mark Buddhist dates? What’s the use of teaching morality?  Oh!  This is to destroy Dharma,’  the monk said.

‘If you say that praying is useless, what about the Muslims’ praying 5 times a day?  Do you dare to mention this [to the Muslims]? … You would not dare to touch other religions, Kham Phaka.  In the case of Ar Kong, you stripped yourself naked to show your tits, which withered and were darkened.  Oh! If they were beautiful, they would have been tolerable to the eyes,’ he said.

‘I’d say that Khun Oak and Khum Aim [children of Thaksin Shinawatra, Phanthongtae and Pinthongta] who own the Voice TV station should get rid of this damned programme, so that Buddhists need not stage any protest against them,’ he said.

Comments

This is hardly the first time

This is hardly the first time that Buddhist monks have become involved in politics for any number of reasons. I recall Luang Pho Khun more than twice telling people in the region to vote for a specific politician (usually Suwat Liptapanlop) but also encouraging support for a particular political party.
As to campaigns in Thailand being nonsensical, we need more radio programs to expose them, not fewer.
Campaigns are often put on behind a nice honorable facade only to drum up support for a knee-jerk cause that evaporates after the photo opportunities are over.
Dr Phra Maha Show's reported comments about tits were hardly in disguise. Tasteless to be sure, it seems that if the lady's breasts were white (some cultural bias here against non-whites) they would have been better thought of by this monk and his friends.
Thailand needs to wake up and smell the roses.
Just yesterday yet another visitor to the kingdom denounced claims that this country is Buddhist by saying, "they are not Buddhist. All they are after is the money."
You can walk like a duck and quack like a duck, but you have to be a duck to be called a duck.

There are many, as well, calling for the removal of any government or state agency as umbrella to the Sangkha and allowing it to be totally independent. Yet, even that is not fully workable. Inside there is so much political wrangling and machinations, all highly sensitive, of course, that it is worthy of a dissertation or two so as to put the matter into legitimate academic circles.

On 14 March, monks and

On 14 March, monks and Buddhists from the Buddhism Protection Centre of Thailand petitioned the House Committee on Religion, Arts, and Culture to examine Kham Phaka’s comments on the television programme[1].

They claimed that the comments were made out of ignorance in the Buddhist Dharma, offensive to the Buddhist teachings, in violation of Sections 37 and 79[2] of the 2007 Constitution and encroaching upon the royal faith in Buddhism in performing royal ceremonies in Thailand where His Majesty the King is proclaimed as a Buddhist, according to Section 9 of the 2007 Constitution[3].

Such comments are deemed detrimental to the monarchy and Buddhism in the country, they said[4].

[1] Going to the parliament about religious discussions?

[2]

Section 9. The King is a Buddhist and Upholder of religions.

Section 37. A person shall enjoy full liberty to profess a religion, a religious sect or creed, and observe religious principles or religious precepts or exercise a form of worship in accordance with his or her belief; provided that it is not contrary to his or her civic duties, public order or good morals.

In exercising the liberty referred to in paragraph one, a person is protected from any act of the State, which is derogatory to his or her rights or detrimental to his or her due benefits on the grounds of professing a religion, a religious sect or creed or observing religious principles or religious precepts or exercising a form of worship in accordance with his or her different belief from that of others.

Section 79. The State shall provide patronage and protection to Buddhism, which is the religion long practised by the majority of the Thai people, and other religions and shall promote good understanding and harmony amongst followers of all religions and encourage the application of religious precepts for the purpose of fostering conscience and developing the quality of life.

[3] The king is immediately dragged into this 'religious dispute'... can lese majeste charges be far behind?

[4] No they cannot... here they are.

IMHO the replacement for the the coup's 2007 charter ought to be drop section 9, the last clause in paragraph 1 of section 37, and section 79. These make Thailand a theocracy, like Iran for instance, and create as much difficulty for Buddhists and Buddhism as for anyone else. See above.

What filthy words from the

What filthy words from the mouth of a monk. I think the Buddha would turn over in his grave.

In fact the attitude of this Buddhist clique is contrary to the teachings of the Buddha. Not to mention the way Buddhism is distorted anyway.

Thailand has become a Kafka story.

It would be unrealistic to

It would be unrealistic to expect anything else from buddhist monks, or indeed, christian priests. Most of them are not in the religion game for spiritual development as they profess, they are in the religion game so they can feel good about themselves, and accumulate power and influence in a theatre they feel comfortable in.

So some monks and their hangers-on express their accumulated power and influence (gained no doubt in the way of accumulated power and influence everywhere - by kissing some asses and kicking others) by telling other people what they should think and becoming nasty when they don't agree. Same as the Army, same as Prem, same as the palace - same in fact as assholes everywhere have done since Cain slew Abel for the very same reason. Everyone's an expert on what other people should think and do.

Thais believe blindly in these monks, but then you already know about the intellect, gullibility and superstition of Thais, even of some of them are quite nice people. They believe blindly in monks, the Army, Prem, the palace and the pooyays - all for the same reason - they're doing as they're told, no more, no less.

If I tell my dog to sit, it sits - its a conditioned response achieved by constant training. If it sits I give it a biscuit, if it doesn't I express my disapproval. Incentive and disincentive., same as they used on the Thais, and with the same result

See my editorial (and photo

See my editorial (and photo of the hostess as she speaks on her program) on this subject at http://www.thekoratpost.com/editorial.html