Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha Saturday invoked Article 44 of the interim charter to sack the director of the National Office of Buddhism.
In the order signed by Prayut as the chief of the National Council for Peace and Order, Phanom Sornsilp was transferred from the post of National Office of Buddhism director to become a special inspector at the PM’s Office.
He was replaced by Pol Lt Gen Pongporn Pramsaneh, commander of the Tax Case Division of the Department of Special Investigation.
The transfers took immediate effect.
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The National Office of Buddhism (Thai: สำนักงานพระพุทธศาสนาแห่งชาติ, abbreviated ONB) is an agency of the central government of Thailand. It is an independent department, reporting directly to the prime minister. ONB, alongside the Thai Sangha, sponsors Thailand's overseas Buddhist missionary policy and activities.
While Thailand is currently a constitutional monarchy, it inherited a strong Southeast Asian tradition of Buddhist kingship that tied the legitimacy of the state to its protection and support for Buddhist institutions. This connection has been maintained into the modern era, with Buddhist institutions and clergy being granted special benefits by the government, as well as being subjected to a certain amount of government oversight.
In addition to the ecclesiastic leadership of the sangha, a secular government ministry supervises Buddhist temples and monks. The legal status of Buddhist sects and reform movements has been an issue of contention in some cases, particularly in the case of Santi Asoke, which was legally forbidden from calling itself a Buddhist denomination.
To obtain a passport for travel abroad, a monk must have an official letter from Sangha Supreme Council granting the applicant permission to travel abroad; Buddhist monk identification card; a copy of House/Temple Registration; and submit any previous Thai Passport or a certified copy thereof.
In 2006, the Thai National Office for Buddhism cleared the Dhammakaya Foundation and Luang Por Dhammajayo of all accusations when Luang Por Dhammajayo agreed offer all of the disputed land to the name of his temple.