Vice Governor Prakob Rongmanee, Phuket Provincial Offices of Public Works and Town & Country Planning Chief Thawee Homhuan, Thalang District Chief Kongtho-adul Chuthong as well as other heads of government departments and volunteers joined the ceremony.
The ceremony was held to ask forgiveness from the sacred structures before moving them from the temple to begin reworking or remodelling them to be more “appropriate”. (See story here.)
V/Gov Prakob said, “Seventeen structures will be improved in one of three ways: removal, destruction or improved to be appropriate. Today we removed some structures such as statues.
“On Monday (Jan 15), heavy equipment will be brought in to remove the statue of Luang Por Chaem and a seven-level pagoda. These two structures are very tall. We have to be careful,” he added.
The Fine Arts Department has deemed that the Lung Por Chaem statue was of “uncorrected design”, V/Gov Prakob said.
“Cracks were found on the statue’s base, which makes it at risk of collapse. So the statue has to be demolished,” he added.
The project to “improve” the temple will be carried out in three stages, V/Gov Prakob explained.
“The ‘urgent’ stage is to remove more than 17 structures today. The second stage is to arrange everything in the temple to be appropriate. The third stage is to create a master plan for the temple to be developed and restored,” he said.
The 17 irregular erections came under scrutiny in November after a rash of comments posted online lambasted the temple for allowing such figures on blessed ground.
Spurring outrage from some members of the public were the statues of a Yak (“giant”) with large exposed breasts brandishing a machine gun, a “poorly crafted” 35-metre-tall statue of the much-respected Luang Por Chaem and a stupa painted all pink, instead of the traditional all white.
The abbot of Phra Nang Sang Temple, Phra Kru Wijitsuppakarn, was suspended from duty for breaching the monkhood’s code of conduct under an order issued by Phra Ratchasirimunee, the head monk overseeing the administration of all temples in Phuket. (See story here.)
“The Phuket office of the National Office of Buddhism removed the abbot from his duties there on Nov 21,” Governor Norraphat reminded attendees at a meeting on Tuesday (Jan 9).
Consequently, Phra Kru Promprapatsorn, the 67-year-old abbot of Thepwanaram Temple (Manik Temple) in Thalang and head monk overseeing the administration of all temples within the diocese of Thalang, was installed as Acting Abbot of Phra Nang Sang Temple, effective Nov 23.
Additional reporting by Eakkapop Thongtub