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Wednesday October 9, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday October 9, 2013 MYT 10:56:47 AM
by oh chin eng
Making big money: A man posing as a Buddhist monk (above) collecting money from patrons of the Cecil Street hawker centre.
GEORGE TOWN: Bogus foreign Buddhist monks are apparently living it up off the public, especially at places like hawker centres and markets in Malaysia and Singapore.
Kwong Wah Yit Poh quoted yesterday a news report from Singapore that said that the republic and Malaysia were two popular destinations for such “monks”, though the conmen preferred Singapore as they could earn up to SGD2,000 (RM5,120) a day.
Malaysian Buddhist Association (MBA) honorary president Datuk Steven Ooi said the large number of foreign bogus monks in Malaysia was due to the public’s generosity with them.
He said there were also locals who pretended to be monks, but their number was small.
Ooi advised the public not to be duped as genuine Buddhist monks or nuns would not go around asking for donations or sell religious items.
“Real monks will only accept food offerings before noon, where devotees can place the food into their alms bowls,” he said at a press conference at the MBA building in Burma Road, here, yesterday.
He said bogus monks would cease to exist if the public stopped giving them money.
MBA honorary secretary Venerable Shi Ji Zun said those who cheated the people were committing “a very sinful act”.
“This will only lead them to hell after death,” she said, adding that she suspected that there could be a group of bogus monks who went to different locations simultaneously.
As if to back up Ooi’s claim, a man posing as a monk was seen making his rounds at the Cecil Street hawker centre here at about 4pm yesterday, asking for money.
The bald man, who was clad in the yellow and brownish robes worn by the Theravada monks and carrying a brown sling bag, walked from table to table with a small covered pot in his hands.
He was seen explaining something to the people he approached before asking them to put money into the pot.
Apparently, he easily made more than RM100 an hour as the place was crowded with patrons having their tea break.
A vendor in a Butterworth market said bogus monks usually went there between 7am and 8am, when these places were at their busiest.
“They usually come to a market for about one month before shifting to another,” said the vendor, who wished to be known only as Lee.
Lee, who trades in few markets around Butterworth, said some of these monks were familiar faces to him.
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Courts & Crime, bogus monk
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