State government revamps Sulamani Pagoda board
CONTINUING the management overhaul at national sites of worship, the Shan State government dissolved the board of trustees at Taunggyi’s Sulamani Pagoda last week.
A new 10-member committee was tasked with looking after the famed pagoda – which devotees typically pay homage to on the Tazaungdaing Festival circuit – on September 21, according to U Aung Than Maung, the religion minister for Shan State and Bamar ethnic affairs minister.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs has embarked on a campaign to retool pagoda boards around the country, aiming to bring them under government oversight and increase management transparency, especially with regards to costly donations.
A senior monk committee and pagoda patron committee are involved in the reforms at Sulamani Pagoda, U Aung Than Maung said.
The pagoda chair, U Nyo Lone, a retired school headmaster, along with two deputies, a secretary and nine board members, will serve a five-year term concurrent with the government’s time in office. Two technical experts from the government have also been appointed to assist the Sulamani Pagoda board.
“We believe the new trustee committee will clean up and standardise the pagoda management. They have the respect and trust of the local people behind them,” said U Aung Than Maung. “I don’t want to dwell on the past problems of pagoda, but will say there was nothing especially wrong apart from some issues with the management.”
Trustee boards at famed religious sites like Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda have previously come under fire for allegations of embezzlement. The accusations were partially responsible for prompting the new government’s reform efforts.
A member of the new trustee committee at Sulamani Pagoda said the members are focusing on boosting regulations, finances and security at the pagoda, and will conduct an audit.
“I agreed to serve on the new committee as it has the support of the senior monks and the patron committee,” said deputy chair of the board U Aung Kyaw Naing.
The Shan State religious affairs ministry has its eye on reforming other famed religious sites in the state, including Pindaya, Shwe Phone Pwint and the Kakku Pagoda complex, according to U Aung Than Maung.