Religion Ministry Investigates Complaints Against Pagoda Boards of Trustees

By Pe Thet Htet Khin 20 July 2017

NAYPYITAW — The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture has received complaints against the boards of trustees of about 10 famous pagodas, according to U Zarni Win, deputy permanent secretary of the ministry.

“We are investigating the complaints. We have officers in respective divisions and states and have asked them to look into whether trustees have breached concerned rules and regulations, or if their terms have expired,” U Zarni Win told The Irrawaddy.

He declined to specify which pagodas were named in the complaints.

While the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture directly manages Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda, Mon State’s Kyaiktiyo and Mandalay’s Maha Myat Muni Pagoda, other well-known pagodas are under the management of concerned divisional and state governments, said U Zarni Win.

The new National League for Democracy (NLD) government reformed the boards of trustees at these three pagodas, as well as at Botahtaung Pagoda in Yangon. It also manages the contracts for services provided at these pagodas, such as parking and facilities.

Cash donations from pilgrims and visitors to those pagodas have risen over the past year, following the reforms, according to a statement released by the ministry in late June.

The previous government handed more than 58 billion kyats and US$14.8 million over to the NLD administration, it said, as funds for Shwedagon Pagoda. In the previous financial year, which started on April 1, 2016, and ended on May 31, the pagoda received more than 2 billion kyats and $100,000 in donations.

The ministry also saw an increase of more than 3 billion kyats each in donations to Mon State’s Kyaiktiyo and Mandalay’s Maha Myat Muni pagodas after forming new boards of trustees at the two sites, according to the statement.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.