SURAT THANI — Former anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban surprised many by appearing as a monk today, raising speculation that he is joining a long tradition of political leaders seeking asylum in the monkhood.
Many villagers in Lamet district were baffled to see Mr. Suthep in saffron robes with his head and eyebrows shaven, as is the Buddhist tradition, collecting alms alongside other monks near Than Nam Lai Temple in Surat Thani this morning.
Mr. Suthep and other monks walked for about one kilometer to collect food donations before returning to their secluded temple. Only one temple assistant was seen accompanying Mr. Suthep throughout the journey.
Mr. Suthep, who is now known by his Buddhist name “Paphakaro,” did not announce his intention to be ordained as a monk. Media reports also indicate that people close to Mr. Suthep were surprised by the sudden move.
Although Mr. Suthep has not publicly stated his reasons for becoming a monk, Thailand has a history of political leaders joining the monkhood to avoid assassination or revenge following periods of upheaval in the country’s politics. Killing monks is considered a grave sin in Buddhist cosmology.
Many critics of Mr. Suthep have likened his ordination to that of Suthep Thaugsuban that of Mr. Sondhi Limthongkul who returned to secular life and nearly died life in 2009, when unknown assailants fired a full magazine of bullets from an automatic rifle at his car in Bangkok.
Last month, Mr. Suthep caused an uproar when he told a gathering of PCAD donors at an exclusive club that he had been conspiring with army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha to overthrow Thaksin-allied governments since 2010.
Ekkanat Prompan, a close aide of Mr. Suthep during the anti-government campaign, was also ordained as a monk shortly after the 22 May coup. See original Story Here