Constitution Debate 'Buddhism Defines Thailand'

April 23, 2007

Source: The Buddhist Channel/The Nation,3990,0,0,1,0

Bangkok, Thailand -- Buddhist groups are increasing pressure to have the faith recognised as the national religion in the new constitution. They have threatened to reject the charter if it is not. Movement leader General Thongchai Kuersakul talks to Pravit Rojanaphruk.

Below are excerpts.

Why is there a need to have a national religion?

There are many reasons. First, a constitution is the supreme law, and yet the first of the three pillars of the nation, which is Buddhism, is not recognised.

Second, since we are living in a democratic system and Buddhists constitute 94 per cent of the population - or almost 60 million people - [the drafters] must listen to their demands. It was the Constitution Drafting Assembly that tried to promote people's participation in the drafting process and argued it's a people's constitution. Why would they do that if they won't give us a chance?

Third, at a recent world Buddhist conference attended by 43 nations, Thailand was chosen to be the centre of Buddhism of all sects.