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Date: 12/31/98

Publication: The Nation

Section: Headlines

Manager defends temple against allegations

IN its first official defence against public and press criticism, Wat Phra Dhammakaya assigned its temple manager to participate in an iTV interview which was aired on Tuesday night.

Manit Rattanasuwan countered all allegations in the 15-minute session, and instead asked an interesting question: ''What's wrong if a temple attracts a large number of people and provides them with good teaching?''

Asked about the controversial ''sun halo miracle'', Manit said he had not seen the phenomenon himself, but was told about it by several people close to him who, he claimed, were well-educated and credible.

The temple manager said he had never experienced any questionable behaviour by temple abbot Phra Dhammachayo, as reported in several newspapers, throughout his 15-year period serving the abbot.

Asked to comment on the minimum donation of Bt10,000 for a Buddha image to be attached to the Maha Dhammakaya Jedi, which could also be paid through instalments, Manit said such a payment method was allowed at the request of non-wealthy people who wished to have their own Buddha images.

He also countered a report that the temple had hired a large number of people to ordain, both men as monks or novices as well as women as ascetics, during every school break to promote the temple's public image.

Manit totally dismissed a report that the donated money had been spent for non-merit or purposes other than Buddhism-teaching, and challenged the accusers to make their evidence public.

Manit praised iTV's invitation for the interview and called on other media outlets to follow suit to ensure ''two-way communication'' between the temple and concerned public members.

The Nation

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