1000-year-old Buddha statue in Malaysia stolen for fifth time

ZeeNews, Oct 30, 2007

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- A valuable brass statue of Buddha, believed to be more than 1,000 years old, has been stolen for a fifth time in three years from a temple in Northern Malaysia, a report said.

Tan Khai Beng, a committee member of the Buppharam Thai Buddhist temple in Penang State, was quoted by the star Newspaper as saying the statue has been missing since September 14.

Temple monks were initially not worried because the statue had been previously stolen four times since 2004 and on each occasion it was returned to the altar within three to four days, he said.

"The committee became worried when the statue was not returned after two weeks. We are appealing to whoever took the statue to return it as soon as possible," Tan was quoted as saying.

"We are afraid that the thief would melt the brass for scrap metal, or sell it to private antique collectors overseas. Bad luck is likely to befall the person who took the statue," he said.

The temple has told its devotees from all over the country that the statue - which originally came from Northeastern Thailand has gone for a holiday and will return soon, the newspaper quoted Tan as saying.

The report did not say why the statue was stolen so many times, and Tan and other temple officials could not be reached today for comment.

About 60 percent of Malaysia's 27 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims but there are large minority groups. Ethnic Chinese, mostly of Buddhist and Christian faiths, form a quarter of the population, and Indians, who are generally Hindus, make up about 10 percent.