11 July 2024

A bill to empower His Majesty the King to handpick members of the Sangha Supreme Council, the supreme governing body of Buddhist monks in Thailand, sailed through the National Legislative Assembly today.

The NLA unanimously passed the bill to amend the Sangha Supreme Council Act in three straight readings by 217 votes with four abstentions.

The bill seeks to restructure the Sangha Supreme Council by removing the council’s power in selecting council members by placing the power to His Majesty the King.  It also seeks to do away with the practice that makes senior monks with the rank of Somdet Phra Rachakhana to be ex-officio members of the council.

Under the bill, the King will handpick well-qualified senior monks to fill the 20 seats in the council.  The King will also have the power to remove any members of the council.

The bill will become effective after its publication in the Royal Gazette.  It will replace the existing act which empowers the council to wield full control of monastic affairs and the selection of council members.

The term of the current members of the council will end in two months after which the King will appoint new members with the prime minister countersigning the appointments.

The shakeup of the Sangha Supreme Council follows corruption scandals implicating three council members and several other senior monks.  The three council members have been removed by the Supreme Patriarch and their titles stripped by HM the King.

Investigations into the temple fund embezzlement scandal are still ongoing.

Tags: Sangha Supreme Council NLA, bill, three straight readings