Fake Buddhist Monks on A Current Affair
We are back in Melbourne and last night watched “A Current Affair” which ran a piece about fake Buddhist monks scamming people in the street asking for donations.
I feel a bit strongly about this because Buddhism is one of those religions with more tolerance than some others and it makes me feel embarrassed when I see conmen, not real Buddhist Monks scamming money out of people that could be donated to the Salvos or any other worthy charity.
I wanted to write a little about this because during our recent trip we encountered these same types of conmen posing as monks in the tourist areas of Phnom Penh and in Jalan Alor in Malaysia. Years ago when Joe turned 10 I was duped on the banks of the Singapore River by the same scam and I still have the little amulet trinket that fortunately thanks to Helen I only handed over 5 Singapore Dollars for as she is in fact a Buddhist and knew something wasn’t right. I on the other hand am an easy touch because the last thing I want to do is offend anyone… and of course these conmen play on this fact.
In Cambodia where Buddhism is everywhere, it was in fact easier to spot these fakes. The real Buddhists studying at the colleges in either Siem Reap or Phnom Penh wore simple but very bright orange outfits. Some carried the large bowls in a cloth and would approach local shops, not tourists and would not ask for money.
The scammers only want money and in Australia, Singapore, Cambodia and Malaysia all wear a darker almost olive brown monk’s uniform that has more pieces than the simple clothes worn by the trainee monks. The chaps “caught” in the current affair expose wear the same clothes and in Cambodia and Malaysia they also have quite a few wooden bead bracelets and necklaces which are offered to you in return for money.
Real Monks, or at least the ones we saw in Cambodia did not “trawl” through the tourist drinking and eating areas – opting to move quickly between their dormitory and the colleges or destinations.
These thieves give Buddhism a bad name and although writing this might only make a few people aware, I felt I needed to do it… Apart from any warning, making a statement that Buddhism (like any religion that is followed) is fundamentally good, and please don’t confuse these fakes dressed up as Buddhist Monks as representing the people that follow that religion…
Have a Happy New Year and may peace and happiness outweigh any badness…