Cops crack down on 95 'bad' monks
Sex, scams, politics, transvestism targeted
The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) has launched a nationwide crackdown on 95 rogue monks, singling out those who indulge in sex, scams, transvestism and politics.
CIB commissioner Lt Gen Thitiraj Nhongharnpitak said the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) is spearheading the drive aimed at keeping the monastic community free of scandals.
While the Sangha community is full of revered monks, those who fail to abide by religious regulations and principles have damaged the image of monks and Buddhism as a whole, he said.
Pol Lt Gen Thitiraj said the CSD has compiled a list of monks who are suspected of breaching the disciplines and some of these will be prosecuted if their alleged misconduct is found to break laws.
Pol Lt Gen Thitiraj said there are 95 wayward monks on the list. The CSD will look into alleged misconduct of target monks and ask them to shed their robes if they are found to violate the monastic code of conduct.
"This is the first group the CSD is looking into and it will keep watching for more. If they breach the monastic code of conduct, they will be asked to leave the monkhood. They will face legal action, too, if they break the laws," he said.
A source in the CIB said the agency has divided the 95 wayward monks into four categories: indulging in sexual activities (35); claiming to have supernatural powers (24); engaging in political activism (11); and practicing transvestism (25).
According to the source, the CSD crackdown will go on for about two weeks.
The crackdown has coincided with the Sangha Supreme Council's order instructing senior monks to toughen the screening procedures for men wishing to enter the monkhood.
According to the order, ecclesiastical provincial governors, ecclesiastical officials at all levels as well as preceptors must stringently adhere to discipline practised by monks, including how to screen people entering the monkhood.
The council's latest order came after Somdet Phra Ariyawong Sakhottayan, the Supreme Patriarch, said at a meeting on Nov 23 that the council should outline measures to force monks and novices into behaving in line with Buddhist principles as it is important for monks to be respected in Thai society.
Meanwhile, the CIB's revelation of its operation also came after the high-profile arrest of a senior monk in Phetchabun last week for alleged child indecency.
Somkiat Khanthong, formerly known as Phra Khru Kitti Phacharakhun, 53, was nabbed by a 30-man CSD team at his living quarters at the Wat Lat Khae temple in Chon Daen district.
Mr Somkiat, who served as the temple abbot and Chon Daen district's monastic chief, faces a charge of committing indecent acts against children under 15 with or without the victim's consent.
According to the CSD police, the ex-monk was also accused of making sexual advances toward several women and improper conduct, including sneaking out of the temple at night and behaving like an influential figure.
He is being detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison after the Criminal Court denied bail.
The former monk is also among four monks and 10 laymen implicated in the temple fund embezzlement being investigated by the police's Counter-Corruption Division.
Two weeks earlier, a CSD team arrested a 27-year-old monk and two others in Bangkok for alleged fraud.
Thanomsaeng Somsuay, 27, formerly known as Luangpu Nento, was accused of collaborating with Nawarat Tothianchin, 70, and Nadol Maneesaengbamrungsan, 53, to cheating people out of millions baht in an amulet-making scam.
Mr Thanomsaeng was apprehended at his temple in Bangkok's Bang Sue district while Ms Nawarat, his foster mother, was arrested at her house in the same district. Mr Nadol, the ex-monk's driver, was detained at the car park of a supermarket in Onnuj area.
Based on the CSD probe, Mr Thanomsaeng, while being a monk at Wat Ban Bua Noi temple in Nakhon Ratchasima's Bua Yai district, claimed to have clairvoyance while his foster mother posed as a medium of King Taksin.
The pair allegedly tricked the people into donating money to fund the construction of a Buddha statue and buying amulets priced at 2,000 baht apiece, claiming the proceeds would be spent on temple maintenance projects.
However, locals became suspicious about their fund-raising activities and filed a complaint with police.