Beware of bogus Thai monks seeking alms

The New Straits Times, Jan 14, 2005

JOHOR BARU, Malaysia -- Malaysians have been told to be wary of Thai monks who walk the streets asking for alms. The reason: some of the men in saffron robes are bogus monks, preying on the generosity of locals.

A senior tamruat phra, literally, the monk police, said a Thai syndicate behind this scam was known to have fleeced thousands of Malaysians of their cash and personal belongings.

Phrakhru Sudhidamarak, who is one of 18 monk police appointed by the Thai King, said he was also aware of rogue monks indulging in such acts in the country.

"Last year, we caught and derobed 10 such rogue Thai monks in Kuala Lumpur," said Sudhidamark, who was here to conduct Buddhist prayers for tsunami victims at Taman Johor Jaya here.

"Geunine Thai monks do not wear watches or shoes. Indeed, they have no earthly assests of any sort," he said, adding that all legitimate monks carried a "monk pass" issued by the Sankarat (head monk).

"They wear a saffron robe and the only possession they have is a cloth sling bag for personal documents and a binthabatt (steel bowl) for food.

"They are only allowed to go out to receive donations of food from devotees between 4am and 8am daily.

"Thai monks are also strictly forbidden to beg or roam the streets, bilking people out of cash, food and other donations. They are also not supposed to ask for cash or sell any items like talisman in return for money," he said.

Sudhidamarak, who is the royal monk of Wat Sing Thong in Bangkok, regularly visits neighbouring countries to conduct prayers.

He said he only had jurisdiction over fraudulent Thai monks both in Thailand and abroad, adding that although he had the authority to reprimand rogue monks of other nationalities, he could not take action against them.

"In the case of errant Thai monks, I derobe them on the spot and their particulars are relayed to the Thai police to facilitate their arrests when they return home."

In Thailand, the legal penalty is only US$4.50 (RM17.10) for the first offence. Repeat offenders can get a year in jail, but that's rare.

The most effective deterrent is the element of public shame.

Sudhidamarak said the tamruat phra was formed in 1993 against a tide of scandals engulfing the Buddhist clergy.

This included several high profile cases of real monks in Thailand caught embezzling, selling and using drugs, seducing parishioners and patronising prostitutes.

He said although wayward monks made up only a tiny minority of Thailand's 300,000 clergymen, the damage they had done to the faith was so severe that the King himself had to step in to appoint monk police.

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: