HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drugs At Temple Embarrass Monks Further
Pubdate: Fri, 30 Mar 2001
Source: Straits Times (Singapore)
Copyright: 2001 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd.
Author: James East


BANGKOK - The seizure of 16,000 methamphetamine pills from a Buddhist 
temple in Bangkok on Tuesday is the latest blow for Thailand's monks 
already embarrassed by revelations that one in 10 is hooked on the pills.

The drugs, sealed in a container, were pulled out from a temple pond in 
Khao San Road - Bangkok's colourful backpacker haunt made famous by the 
Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Beach.

The discovery came just a day after revelations by Mr Manop Polparin, a 
specialist with the state's Religious Affairs Department, that an estimated 
one in 10 of Thailand's 30,000 Buddhist monks and novice monks wer addicted 
to methamphetamines.

But he admitted that temple abbots did not want to face the problem and 
refused to work with the police, fearing a backlash from the public.

Thailand had been hit by a series of scandals in which monks had been 
caught womanising, collecting antique Mercedes-Benz cars and drinking alcohol.

Although there have been attempts to help addicted monks, the state could 
only afford 10 baht (S$0.40) per monk for rehabilitation.

Thai monks were susceptible to addiction because many came from 
disadvantaged backgrounds and only became ordained to obtain a free education.

Such openness meant that there was a lack of screening of those entering.
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