Phra Buddha Issara is a Thai Buddhist monk of great political controversy. This daring ambitious man reminds us of another another monk who flew around in a private jet sporting a branded handbag and is a fugitive on the run from the Thai law.
Some Thai monks have grown either attached to their comfort with their sponsors giving them expensive gifts or have grown overzealously critical of democracy. A brief thought, came to my mind, of scenes when extremist monks from Myanmar attacking minority Rohingya in the name of righteousness. Though the situation in Bangkok is different than their counterparts in Myanmar, I cannot help but think whether Buddhism in our country will be used by a handful of politically motivated monks to satisfy their lust for power.
The Criminal Court, on Monday, has rejected the request for arrest warrants for Phra Buddha Issara and 12 other PDRC anti-democracy leaders. Many Thais have seen the photos of a PDRC-endorsed monk collecting extortion money from a hotel that is owned by the Shinawatra family. Apparently this monk today went to Voice TV office in Bangkok to extort money from another property of the Shinawatra.
While Phra Buddha Issara’s leader, Mr. Suthep Thaugsuban, encourages violence and intimidation as an acceptable form of harsh persuasion, it is clearly against the law and the norms of Thai society. Are some monks the same like their counterparts in Myanmar or are they practicing some form of Buddhist ritual that we, normal people, do not know?
Phra Buddha Issara was involved in acts of intimidation, such as when he led an angry mob to obstruct Thais from their right to vote. The monk need a lesson in humility and a stern reminder of his duties as a monk and that he must show attitude becoming of a monk to Lord Buddha. Otherwise I cannot help but think his attitude is unbecoming of a man who swore an oath of peace and non-violence.