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Officials scratch off gold from Buddha statues

by Aye Nai, Democratic Voice of Burma, Oct. 14, 2008

Magwe, Myanmar -- A pagoda treasurer and local village authorities have scratched off gold coating worth five billion kyat from historical Buddha statues in a village in Magwe division's Yaynanchaung township, according to villagers.

The four bronze Buddha statues are located in Pin Skkalanpa pagoda compound in Pin Phayagon village.

They were built by King Anarwahta of the Bagan dynasty in year 418 of the Burmese calendar, around 950 years ago, and have been coated with gold by Buddhist followers over the years.

Tint Lwin, a Yaynanchaung National League for Democracy organising committee member, said the officials had been seen scratching off the gold at around 11.30 am on 4 September.

"NLD member U Nan Win from Pin Phayagon village saw the pagoda's treasurer Mya Moe, the village Peace and Development Council chairman Kyi Nyunt and six other people in the village scratching off the gold from the Buddha statues," Tint Lwin said.

"Over the 950 years, people have coated the statues with layers of gold so it had become very thick and the group had to use carpentry equipment to scratch it off," he said.

"They said they were only doing that to re-coat the gold on the statues [as in a maintenance process] but normally they would have to get permission from the township authorities and the 13 Sanga Nayaka monks."

But the monks said they had not given permission for maintenance work, Tint Lwin said.

"One of the village's Sanga Nayaka said he knew it had happened but he could not say anything about it unless he was asked due to the code of ethics monks have to follow," he said.

"The monk said he would tell the township authorities if they asked him about it," he went on.

"We told the nine Sanga Nayakas in the village and the other four in town what happened and they said they had not been informed of the work done by the village and pagoda authorities."

Tint Lwin said he had also reported the case to the Sasana administration in Yaynanchaung.


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