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Thai Buddhist Temple Left Empty After Monks Test Positive For Drugs & Get Sent To Rehab

The incident follows a string of drug scandals among Thai monks in recent years.

Cover image via khaiinauy/Freepik & NSU MON/Pexels

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Monks are known as paragons of virtue who steer clear of worldly pleasures in pursuit of their faith

This, however, did not ring true for four Thai monks — including the abbot, the head of the monks — who were reported to have tested positive for methamphetamine on Monday, 28 November, according to the BBC.

After failing the urine tests administered by police, the monks were promptly removed from the temple, located in the Bung Sam Phan district of Phetchabun province in Thailand, to undergo drug rehabilitation at a nearby health clinic.

Officials did not mention the reason the temple was brought to the attention of Thai authorities.

The temple, now devoid of monks, left local devotees understandably anxious as they could no longer perform the practice of 'merit-making', a fundamental aspect of Thai Buddhist culture.

The practice sees worshippers enact good deeds – in this case giving food to monks – in order to attain a 'protective force' which eases their passage from this life to the next.

In light of these concerns, local official Boonlert Thintapthai stated that the local monastic chief has made promises to delegate new monks to the temple.

Image via Gulf Daily News

The raid came amid a national campaign to tackle drug trafficking

Methamphetamine, known colloquially as 'meth', has become a thorn in the side of the land of smiles. Over one billion methamphetamine tablets were seized in East and Southeast Asia in 2021 — an all time high according to the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime, suggesting widespread demand for the drug.

Thailand serves as a major transit point for methamphetamine, which floods into the country via Laos. The pills are reportedly sold on the streets with a value of around THB50 (RM6.32).

In tandem with the growing demand for meth in the country, there have been a number of scandals involving the drug among Thai monks this year alone

Among them is Luang Pu Tuanchai, a widely known and respected monk in Thailand, who gained notoriety for his predictions and alleged visions. However, on 15 March, he was arrested on charges of drunk driving and the possession of illegal substances, as reported by Bangkok Herald.

Another monk named Phra Suthorn suffered the same fate on 16 January when he was arrested for the possession, use, and sale of meth to kids in his neighbourhood.

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