Backlash prompts removal of 17 eyesores at temple
Phuket: Some 17 “inappropriate” structures at Wat Phra Nang Sang in Thalang district will be dismantled to improve the landscape of the ancient temple.
Phuket governor Noraphat Plodthong yesterday presided over religious rites to mark the beginning of their removal.
The move comes after a flood of complaints on social networks about “inappropriate” structures at the temple.
They include two statues of giants holding rifles at the entrance to the temple’s ubosot.
One of the statues thought to be a female has her breasts exposed.
Netizens also complained that a towering 35-metre tall statue of Luang Por Cham, a late revered monk from Phuket, is disproportionate.
About 10 people from a conservation group also filed a complaint with Thalang police asking them to take legal action against officials from the provincial Fine Arts Department office for negligence in allowing the structures to be installed.
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A provincial monastic panel stepped in to investigate the matter, and decided to suspend temple abbot Phra Khru Wijit Suppakan indefinitely.
The chief monk of Thalang district has been appointed as the temple’s caretaker abbot.
A joint panel made up of provincial officials and monks was also set up to deal with the offending structures. It agreed that a total of 17 deemed inappropriate would be removed.
Phuket chief monk, Phra Rajsirimunee, said the structures have to go, particularly the disproportionate statue of Luang Por Cham, which he said could collapse, despite some residents being opposed to its removal.
They say the removal would be disrespectful to the monk they revere.
Mr Noraphat said installation of the structures breached the law governing ancient sites, ancient and artistic objects, and must be removed.
Cracks have been found in the statue of Luang Por Cham, which could pose a danger, the provincial governor said.
After all structures removed it is up to the provincial clergy to improve the landscape of the temple which is of historic significance in Phuket, the governor said.