Dispute Between Authorities and Nong Phaya Temple Abbot Continues

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Dispute at Nong Phaya Temple

A dispute between the abbot of Nong Phaya Temple and village authorities continues, resulting in the removal of the abbot and the relocation of monks and novices.

The Xaythany Buddhist Association in collaboration with Nong Phaya Village authorities have removed the abbot of Nong Phaya Temple, Ven. Sompong Thongphien, and relocated several monks and novices.

According to a notice issued by the Xaythany Buddhist Association, Ven. Sompong Thongphien had failed to comply with articles of the Lao Monastic Constitution as well as Vientiane Capital’s protection rules for monks and novices, but did not provide specific information about his offenses in the notice.

Monks and novices who did not have any documentation granting them permission to dwell in the village have been removed from Nong Phaya Temple, and will be housed at an unknown location.

Nong Phaya Temple is located in Nong Phaya Village, Xaythany District, Vientiane Capital and will be administered directly by the Xaythany Buddhist Association, which will also officially move its administration office into the temple premises.

Vice-governor of Xaythany district, Mr. Bounvanh Chasuakao, said the dispute began in 2016 and has increased in severity, despite officials’ attempts to mediate, according to a report in Lao Post.

Village authorities famously locked the doors of the temple in September last year during Boun Hor Khao Salak, preventing worshippers from entering the temple and participating in the festival.

Authorities investigated and found that Ven. Sompong Thongphien had allowed over 20 monks, novices, and nuns to stay in the temple without informing the village authorities, said Mr. Bounvanh Chasuakao.

On August 2020, the Xaythany Buddhist Association issued a notification stating that Ven. Sompong Thongphien must be removed from the Nong Phaya temple by 30 August 2020.

The conflict between Nong Phaya village authorities and Ven. Sompong Thongphien, the abbot of Nong Phaya temple, has raged for years and has yet to be resolved.

Meanwhile, unofficial reports state that Ven. Sompong Thongphien disrobed and relocated from Nong Phaya temple last week.