Monk caught dining with woman

Police are seeking the identity of a monk who was photographed having dinner with a woman in public, behaviour deemed inappropriate by Buddhists, reports said on Friday.

The picture has been uploaded and shared through various websites.

The monk's action was not appropriate but was not considered a punishable offence, said Phra Ratcharatnaporn, head of the Phravinayadhikarn - a group of monks appointed to oversee monastic discipline.

However, if there is evidence that the monk was eating after midday, strictly forbidden for Buddhist monks, only then could the man be disrobed, he said.

Nopparat Benjawattananon, the director of the National Office of Buddhism, said the photograph was taken at a BBQ Plaza restaurant in Dusit district of Bangkok. He said he had contacted the restaurant but was unable to obtain identity of the people in the picture.

Mr Nopparat said his office would work with the Information and Communication Technology Ministry to suppress the further spread of the picture online because the content has a negative effect on the image of Buddhism.

The picture has sparked anger as well as some scepticism among Thai netizens. One person posted a comment saying: "Frankly, the story is a bit strange because even a novice monk would have known not to behave like this, let alone a monk. It's just hard to believe that the monk in the photo just sat there like it was nothing, not caring what other people might think."

Another poster was more blunt: "Why don't we just not have monks anymore?"

"Disgrace," wrote another poster. "Lazy people are using monks' robes to make a living from money earned by asking for alms."

The reference was to the recent arrest of two monks in Sukhothai who drove a car to make their alms round. They were disrobed after condoms and methamphetamines were found in the car and they tested positive for drugs.

Another commenter claimed to have been told that the incident happened after midday. "The photo was taken at 7pm, the person who took the photo told me."

Related search: buddhism, monk, discipline, thailand

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