Three months after the Nen Kham scandal erupted, the former jet-setting monk from Si Sa Ket is still a free man. Now defrocked and living life on the run, the fugitive Wirapol Sukphol, formerly Luang Pu Nen Kham of Wat Pah Khantidham is accused of fraud and abuse of temple donations that could amount to billions of baht. The Nen Kham temple corruption, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. A study by the National Institute of Development Administration (Nida) revealed Thailand's 37,075 temples receive about 100-120 billion baht in donations every year. The abbots have sole legal power to use the temple money as they see fit. Most temples do not have proper accounting systems. Nor are they subjected to outside monitoring and auditing.
This is a recipe for disaster.
There have been many policy recommendations to fix this messy system. The Nida study, for example, proposes accountancy training for monks and outside auditing from professionals. Temple committee members should also include outsiders to ensure checks and balances instead of being appointed by the abbots as things stand now.
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