Malaysia: Bogus foreign monks to face fine and deportation

by Heidi Foo, New Straits Times, Feb 5, 2007

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Bogus monks from neighbouring countries will be fined and deported from next week. Deputy Home Affairs Minister Datuk Tan Chai Ho said enforcement officers will conduct checks at hawker centres and night markets where these bogus monks are usually found.

“We will also store their data and scan their thumbprints for future reference,” he said, adding that foreigners who disguise as monks to seek donations are flouting the Immigration Act.

Tan, who is also the MCA religious bureau head, said he was concerned over the existence of such syndicates as it would jeopardise the image of Buddhism in the country.

“Not only is the act a disgrace but Buddhist devotees are also being cheated as they are donating to bogus people,” he said.

He advised the public to refer to Buddhist associations when in doubt as not many know how to differentiate between a genuine and bogus monk.

“For instance, the public may not know that monks are not supposed to receive money as donations and are only allowed to collect edible items before noon,” he said after launching the Maha Karuna Foundation yesterday.

Also present were Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Ng Lip Yong and the Ven B. Saranankara Maha Thera, director of the foundation and chief monk of the Sri Lanka Buddhist Temple in Sentul, here.

Tan, who is also a director of the foundation, distributed essential items to 1,000 needy families, orphans, senior citizens, schools and people with disabilities at the temple.