Thu, Dec 02, 2010
Ming Yi's monk status questioned over $1,000-a-table dinner

SINGAPORE - The Buddhist community is abuzz with questions surrounding Venerable Ming Yi's status as a monk.

Buddhist Federation's secretary-general, Venerable Kwang Phing, said many voiced their unhappiness after a dinner was held by Foo Hai Chan Monastery in Geylang in honour of Venerable Ming Yi's 20 years of service. The Buddhist Federation is Singapore's top Buddhist organisation.

Venerable Kwang Phing told The Straits Times that many wanted to know: "'How can he do this?', 'Why is he still a monk?', 'Why isn't the federation doing anything?''

The dinner, organised by the monastery, was held at the Pan Pacific Hotel and reportedly cost $200,000.

The local newspaper reported that the dinner touched off an emotional debate among Buddhists even as devotees of the Foo Hai Chan Monastery called the celebration a 'sheng zuo dian li', or 'rise to power' ceremony; they said they wanted to celebrate Venerable Ming Yi's return to the temple.

Senior Buddhists in Singapore - Venerable Kwang Sheng, the federation's president, and Venerable Kwang Phing - were absent from the dinner although they had been invited.

Venerable Ming Yi - founder and former chief executive of Ren Ci Hospital - was convicted of fraud, falsifying documents, misappropriating funds and giving false information to the Commissioner of Charities last October.

He was jailed in May this year and was released in September.

The Buddhist Federation wants Ven Ming Yi to voluntarily step up to the plate and take responsibility for his actions.

If he does so, a temporary disciplinary committee of five or more monks will be set up to demote him.

If he chooses to stay at large, other monks may be advised to shun him.

Mr Lim Bock Guan, the head of the Singapore Buddhist Lodge told the local newspaper that a monk being honoured for his service with a $1,000-a-table dinner in a top hotel has never been heard off.

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