Fake monk makes $2,000 a day

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Fake monks spotted around Singapore.

SINGAPORE - In just a day, a man who passed himself off as a Thai monk pocketed $2,000.

He had gone around Singapore selling religious pendants and begging for money from passers-by.

Within six hours of hitting the streets, the man had already earned $800. He could even afford to take a three-hour siesta from 2-5pm before donning his robes to hit the streets again in the evening.

Venerable Chao Khun Rian from the Thai Buddhist Temple in Singapore on Monday used this incident, which happened six years ago, to highlight how lucrative it can be for men passing themselves off as monks.

At least five fake monks have been reported to the Singapore Buddhist Federation in the last two weeks, prompting the federation to call for a press conference on Monday morning.

These fakes have been seen all over the island - from neighbourhoods like Bukit Merah and Kreta Ayer to parts of town such as Clarke Quay, Raffles Place and Orchard Road.

Singapore Buddhist Federation secretary-general Venerable Seck Kwang Phing and locally-based representatives from the Thai, Myanmar and Sri Lankan temples here addressed the problem of these imposters at the federation's building in Geylang.

The Buddhist leaders showed pictures of alms bowls, emphasising that monks are not allowed to ask for money using them.

They also gave details on how these fake monks work.

Traditionally, monks are allowed to collect alms for food and medicine. But local monks do not follow this practice, explained the founder of the Samadhi Buddhist Society, Venerable Dr Seeha, who came to Singapore from Sri Lanka in 1984.

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