Four of the Thai abbey Buddhist monks have been removed from office, fired and sent to rehab after they were all found to have used methamphetamine when police fired a test at them.
It means that the small temple in the Bung Sam Phan district of Phetchabun province has now lost its entire cohort of monks in one fell swoop. It’s unclear why police tested them for meth on Monday, but police reported that the four — including their leader — had failed a urine exam.
The monks were then sent to a clinic to undergo drug rehabilitation, with it being reported locally that they would be replaced at the temple.
It is a Thai custom for residents to participate in ‘merit making’, i.e. giving food to the monks as a good deed, and the replacement of the monks will make this possible.
It follows several other high-profile arrests and scandals related to Thai Buddhism in recent years that have rocked the reputation of the faith’s leaders. About 93 percent of the country’s 70 million inhabitants are Buddhists and there are about 300,000 monks.
The police action comes in tandem with a wider national campaign to tackle drug trafficking, a problem that has emerged in several Southeast Asian countries over the past two years.
It has become a hotspot for trade due to its location within the so-called ‘golden triangle’, where access between ThailandLaos and Myanmar let deals thrive.
Record-breaking quantities of both crystal methamphetamine and meth pills have been bought and sold in the region since Myanmar’s 2021 coup d’état, causing the country to lose grip on its domestic affairs.