The government has come up with a programme to boost the morality of government officials and the Thai people by encouraging them to practice dharma at temples on a weekly basis throughout this year in honour of HM the King’s 84th birthday.
On 8 March, the Cabinet approved a plan proposed by the Ministry of Culture which had been initiated by Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban in his capacity as Chair of the National Culture Commission during a meeting of the Commission on 4 Feb.
According to the Ministry’s proposal, it has found that a lack of morality is a national problem due to social changes as people cling to materialism and consumerism under the influence of globalization in all aspects. The result is that Thai people in all sectors of society are removed from religion and do not follow religious teachings in their everyday life, and society has become more and more morally ignorant.
In the past, Buddhist holy days were important in the traditional way of life of Thai society, and are still recognized by Buddhists today. However, as these holy days [which fall on four different phases of the moon each month] are not official holidays, many people do not have the opportunity to go to the temple on these days. The Ministry, therefore, has conceived a programme to encourage people to go to the temple, ‘to get close to religion, to meet monks, to listen to sermons, to find happiness for themselves and their families, and to honour His Majesty the King on the upcoming occasion of his 7th cycle on 5 Dec this year’.
According to the Ministry’s programme, all state agencies will select appropriate temples and invite officials who are Buddhist to go to the temple every holy day or Sunday throughout the year, and also encourage officials who hold different faiths to carry out religious activities in honour of the king.
Each agency will participate in taking an oath of allegiance to follow the King’s address which he gave to the Thai people on the 60th anniversary of his accession to the throne in 2006.
Each agency will also arrange a set of altar tables together with the national flag and a photograph of the King in its meeting room, and at each meeting Buddhist rituals, including the lighting of incense and candles and praying, will be performed in honour of His Majesty, except in areas where other religions predominate.
The Ministry of Education will instruct all schools to bring students to the temple to practice dharma every holy day or Sunday, to have students chant prayers every morning and chant the entire set of prayers every Friday before going home during each semester, again except in areas where other religions predominate.
The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology will be responsible for publicity and live transmission of all these activities through social networking websites.
The Ministry of Culture itself will propose to the Sangha Supreme Council to have monks chant prayers every holy day, and will collaborate with monks and leaders of other religions to push for activities to promote morality among government officials and the people.