THE Penang Island City Council (MBPP) councillor John Ooh Sin Hwa has advised the public to be aware of bogus monks in the state.
Ooh said the Buddhist monk impostors have been going around and asking for money at MBPP food courts as well as markets.
He also said the council has taken note of the incidents involving the bogus monks and the matter was brought up at the MBPP’s regular meeting on Aug 26.
“The issue was also raised by Batu Lancang assemblyman. These incidents did not only occur in the Batu Lancang constituency but in other areas as well.
“So, the MBPP held a roundtable discussion with the relevant parties, namely the Malaysian Buddhist Association (MBA), United Buddhist Order of Malaysia (UBOM), United Buddhist Order of Penang (UBOP), Penang Harmonico and Thai Consulate in Penang.
“The outcome of the discussion was that we decided to educate and create awareness of ‘bogus monks’ among the public,” Ooh said during a press conference today at the Jelutong market.
Ooh said the MBPP, with the cooperation of Penang Harmonico, has prepared a total of 10 banners to be placed at the areas identified as ‘hotspots’ for the syndicates who are foreigners.
He said a total of 10 markets and food courts administered by the council have been identified.
“They are Jelutong Market, Fisherman’s Wharf, Chowrasta Market, Chowrasta Market Food Court, Sungai Pinang food court, Air Itam Market, Air Itam Food Court, Lavender Food Court (Sungai Ara), Anson Road Market and Kuantan Road Market.
“We have also informed this matter to the state executive councillor for Non-Islamic Religious Affairs and Social Development Chong Eng.
“MBPP’s QR code is printed on the banners to enable the public to make complaints online about these fraudulent cases.
“MBPP’s and MBA’s contact numbers are also displayed on it,” he added.
Ooh also added that, so far, a total of 30 complaints have been received from the public via phone calls.
“I was informed that on Sept 17, five Thailand nationals who were confirmed by the Thai Consulate, were caught in Bukit Mertajam.
“They were then sent to the Immigration Department for further action,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ong also urged the public to only give food to the monks, saying genuine Buddhist monks will not ask for money.
“If they are the fake ones, they will not come again after you have given them food. Normally, genuine monks will not show up after 12pm.
“If you see Buddhist monks after 12pm, then they must probably be involved in the syndicate. When you come across them, you can just point to the banners that we have placed,” Ong said.
Also present were United Buddhist Order of Penang (UBOP) treasurer Lim Hock Wee, Penang Buddhist Association assistant honorary secretary Loo Keat Seang and Harmonico manager Paul Au.
Story by Tanushalini Moroter
Pix by Law Suun Ting