Abbot called on carpet over Rong Poh temple’s spending

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The abbot of a Rong Poh temple invited critics to check his books amid accusations of questionable spending over the past eight years.

Phra Wisutthajan, abbot of Wat Prachum Kongka, explains the temple’s bookkeeping and invites people to check for themselves if they think anything is amiss.
Phra Wisutthajan, abbot of Wat Prachum Kongka, explains the temple’s bookkeeping and invites people to check for themselves if they think anything is amiss.

Phra Wisutthajan, abbot of Wat Prachum Kongka, who also serves as Nong Plalai sub-district dean of monks, met with 50 residents of Bang­lamung’s Moo 2 and 3 villages, Deputy District Chief Praphan Prachumchumpu and National Council for Peace and Order Bang­lamung platoon leader Lt. Suwit Laklang.

Many of those attending were members of the temple’s governing board who claimed they were left out of decisions to fund 10 improvement projects originally budgeted at 30 million baht. Furthermore, the abbot had made the temple into a local tourist attraction, which neighbors complained has had a negative impact on their way of life.

Moo 3 village chief Manot Songyotin said the abbot originally appointed 54 board members, but most of them never voted on projects undertaken over the past five years, even though temple bylaws require a majority vote.

He also complained there has been little information provided on temple income or spending.

The temple – known for its cathedral glass and wall murals – has drawn an increasing number of tourists in recent years with large tour buses making regular stops. While Manot admitted it was a good financial deal for the temple, there should have been a public hearing on the impact the traffic would have on the neighborhood.

Wisutthajan sought to soothe the anger, explaining the temple took in 108 million from 2008-16 from merit making, rent, and tours. Of that, 43 million baht was spent on improvement projects, restoration, religious objects and school supplies. Thus, 65 million baht remains.

He said if people have doubts, they can check the records.

Board members and government officials said more transparency is needed in the future and suggested further meetings should be held to discuss temple management.