'Luxurious Monk' Scandal: Sordid Image Emerges

This mansion in Ubon Ratchatani province is believed to belong to Luang Puu Nen Kam's parents.

(17 June) The monk who
has been captured on film traveling on private jet plane is alleged to be the same man that appeared to be
sleeping next to a woman in an image widely distributed on the Internet.

The development came
just under a day after the Office of National Buddhism (ONAB) announced crackdown on monks who
possesses numerous expensive goods.
Mr. Nopparat
Benjawattananan, director of the ONAB, has previously said that their behavior runs against the
Buddhist doctrine of humble monkhood and risks causing widespread disillusion with Buddhism among
the general populace.

The crackdown was perhaps partially initiated by video of a monk
– equipped with an iPhone and a Louis Vitton bag –
riding on a private jetplane. The video has raised furor among many Thai netizens.

Details
emerged that the monk in question might be Luang Puu (Elder/Grandfather Monk) Nen Kam
Chattiko, a famous monk based in Sisaket province. Although he is described to be merely 36 years
old, he fashioned the prefix Luang Puu out of belief that he was an old monk in the past
life, while his followers claimed that he often appeared in their dreams as an elder, holy
man.

Now, yet another image becomes talk of the town in the Thai social network: the picture
showing the man whose appearance closely resembles Luang Puu Nen Kam sleepding next to a woman.
Buddhist doctrine forbid monks from touching women, let alone sleeping with one.

Mr. Virord
Chaiyapannana, director of Sisaket province′s chapter of ONAB, said that if Nen Kam is indeed the
man in the picture, he will certainly be expelled from monkhood.

However, he played down the
severity of the case involving monks who travelled on private jet plane (Mr. Virord said he was
still not sure if it was Nen Kam in the video). He said monks might need a fast way to commute when
they received urgent assignments, and those jet planes might be given to the monks by wealthy
templegoers.

If it′s done for the sake of religious duties, it′s not wrong, Mr. Virord is
quoted as saying.

Nonetheless, Mr. Virord said
he would investigate the matter, but added that the procedure could run into many obstacles because
ONAB officials are often turned away by Nen Kam′s followers at his temple, and details about the
monk are somewhat murky.

Our correspondent′s
trip to Kantidharma Baan Yang Temple, where Luang Puu Nen Kam is based, has confirmed the nature of
secrecy surrounding the monk and his following. Some locals who lived near the temple said they had
known about Luang Puu but are reluctant to attend the religious rituals there because the temple
looks fishy.

A local elaborated to our correspondent, saying that the villagers have seen
many senior ranking police and military officers visiting the temple. When Nen Kam travels, his
motorcade is headed by Highway Police, according to the locals, which led them to believe that the
monk is close to very influential figures.

The locals declined to be named in the
interviews, citing fear of reprisals.

The temple itself is a large, quiet compound,
according to our correspondent. Only 2-3 staff were guarding the temple. No layman or monk or any
novice was present.

The entrance of the temple is greeted with Kantidharama Company shop
which sells arrays of magical amulets. Numerous donation boxes graced the temple pathways, under
the gazes from large portraits of Luang Puu Nen Kam which decorated the walls. A green Buddha figure
– he biggest emerald Buddha in the world, according to a temple sign – sits forlornly without any
worshiper in the temple.

A staff told our
correspondent that Luang Puu is not in the temple at the moment because he has gone to France with
10 of his fellow monks. The staff said she is not aware of the news about Luang Puu Nen Kam′s
private jet plane, but said that he regularly arrived at the temple via helicopters, landing on the
helipad located just outside the temple.

On the same day, another correspondent was
dispatched to a mansion in Ubon Ratchatani province which is believed to be the residence of Nen
Kam′s parents and the main office of his charity foundation. The mansion – with the auspicious house
number of 999/10 – is easily the biggest residence in the community, our correspondent said.
Sport cars and motorcycles could be seen in the
mansion′s parking lot.

Ms. Fang Donkaew, a
neighbor, said she has not seen Luang Puu visiting the masion for months now. Another neighbor, who
declined to be named, said when Luang Puu did visit his parents, his convoy would consist of many
expensive cars, with local police officers heading the motorcade.

As our correspondent was
examining the area, a woman emerged from the mansion and shut the the large stainless gate. She
refused to answer any question, but neighbors told our correspondent she is a sister-in-law of Luang
Puu Nen Kam.