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Light-fingered monk defrocked in Phuket

PHUKET: A monk from Chaiyapoom Province in Isaan was defrocked after being caught stealing money from shops in Phuket Town today (January 15).


Nattha Thepbamrung

Tuesday 15 January 2013, 07:02PM


A policeman folds Boonmee's monk's robes as he dons 'civilian' clothing.
A policeman folds Boonmee's monk's robes as he dons 'civilian' clothing.

Boonmee Chaya Pasanonjitto, to give him his monastic name, or plain Mr Boonmee Wichaisin as he became today, was ordained about 14 years ago, and traveled from Chaiyapoom recently to stay in Wat Mai Khao in Phuket.

Today he went into a restaurant near the weekend market, and told the restaurant owner that the “Kathin” tree in the restaurant, decorating with donated money, was from his temple and he wanted to take it today. He then picked it up the tree and walked straight out of the restaurant.

The owner followed him, trying to explain to him that the tree did not belong to Boonmee’s temple, but the monk kept walking and went into a computer game shop where he asked for donation. He repeated this in an Isan food restaurant next door.

By this point people had become suspicious of him so he was detained and the Wichit police were called.

After checking with the National Office of Buddhism, police found he already had a record of “raising funds” while receiving food from people in Chaiyapoom.

Searching his monk’s bag, the officers found eight empty donation envelopes, his monk’s ID card and about B1,000 in cash.

The crowd, by this time including officers from the National Office of Buddhism, Phuket branch, accompanied him to Wat Wichit Sangkaram temple to have him defrocked.

During the hearing of evidence, Boonmee denied any wrongdoing. To make his point, he shouted, “You can kill me but I will not be defrocked,” and then hit his head on the floor

However, the Office of Buddhism officials and Phra Kru Pariyattayanuyut, abbot of Wat Wichit Sangkaram, found witnesses’ testimony compelling and concluded that he has guilty as charged. He was ordered defrocked.

All agreed that this was sufficient punishment and there was no need for a criminal prosecution, so Boonmee will be sent back to Chaiyapoom as just plain Mr, with no chance of ever being ordained again.

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