Big Buddhist park project upsets southern Thai Muslims

By Max Constant,, Jan 18, 2016

Locals in majority Muslim region express displeasure that authorities would propose $5.5 million, 80-acre project without consulting residents

Pattani, Thailand -- An 80-acre Buddhist park project planned in Thailand’s Muslim majority south is upsetting local Muslims and could trigger a wave of protests, local media reported Monday.

Waedueramae Mamingji, chairman of Pattani province’s Islamic committee, told the Bangkok Post that Muslim residents were not opposed to the building of Buddhist temples in their neighborhoods, but considered “large-scale projects” such as the park to be going too far.

“Public sentiment and local sensitivity must not be ignored,” said Mamingji, who also serves as chairman of a network of Islamic committees in three predominantly Muslim provinces – Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat – bordering Malaysia.

The park project, which will be located in Pattani’s main district, is planned to include a large Buddha statue surrounded by Buddhist stupas and lawns.

It was recently approved at a meeting between provincial authorities and provincial leaders of the Buddhist clergy.

The $5.5 million needed for its construction will be mostly gathered through public donations.

“Will the government agencies concerned please reconsider the project for the sake of peace and stability for us here?” Mamingji asked Monday.

Quoting local sources, the Post reported that the project “has resulted in a surge of public displeasure against the authorities for proposing such a large religious construction be erected without local consultation”.

Referring to concerns that the issue “could touch off a row between Buddhists and Muslims”, it added that a mass protest could be in the cards in the neighboring province of Yala.

Muslims represent 80 percent of the population of the three southern provinces, and Buddhists around 15 percent – but more than 90 percent of Thailand’s population nationwide follows Buddhism and 5 percent Islam.

Relations between Buddhists and Muslims in the south had been strained for more than a century, but have become even tenser since a Muslim insurgency re-emerged in 2004.

Violence between insurgents and security forces have killed more than 6,500 people and injured around 11,000 since then.

The southern insurgency is rooted in a century-old ethno-cultural conflict between Malay Muslims living in the south and the Thai central state, where Buddhism is considered the de-facto national religion.

Pattani’s former senator Worawit Bahru, another local Muslim leader, told the Post on Monday that if the park “alters Pattani’s identity”, it could end up “hurting” the commercial potential of the province, which Thai authorities have promoted as an important producer and exporter of halal foods.

National and provincial authorities have not yet responded to the controversy around the park, which is set to be completed this year, but provincial officials have begun preparing postcards to be distributed in raising donations.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: