The news came at a meeting attended by Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong yesterday (Jan 9).
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.
Flamed for their mere presence at the temple were 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. (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 the meeting yesterday (Jan 9).
The abbot, 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.
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.
Meanwhile, a committee was tasked with deciding what to do with the controversial structures.
“We made the decision to remove the offending images,” Governor Norraphat said yesterday.
The 17 images to be modified or removed entirely include the statue of Luang Por Chaem, two Chinese shrines, an image of Ganesh, a “Chinese doll” and spirit house, a ship modelled in the image of a swan, a statue of a male giant, a statue of a female giant, a statue of a tiger, a statue of the Chinese Goddess Quan Yin, an two images of Mahsuri, a female spirit of the sea originating from Langkawi, Malaysia, Gov Norraphat noted.
“These image must be demolished or have their offending aspects removed clear by Jan 11.
Winya Paladkwa, the chief of the Phuket office of the National Office of Buddhism, noted yesterday that the removal and remodelling work will be carried out by the Phuket office of the Public Works and Town & Country Planning, acting under the authority of the Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor) and the Thepkrasattri Tambon Administration Organisation (OrBorTor).
“There are also four buildings near the front gate which we are still investigating as well as three other structures along the temple walls – one a building, one a worker’s shelter and stairs to a monk’s house – that we are still investigating whether the temple had permission to build,” Mr Winya said.