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PHUKET: A shambolic fake monk recently attracted the suspicions of local people in Nakhon Ratchasima Province – and the attention of the police – by trying to collect alms in the afternoon.

Villagers called officers at Phimai Police Station to investigate a man who claimed to be a monk, but was improperly dressed, collecting alms late and sometimes even asking for money instead of food.

At Phimai Irrigation Reservoir, police found the scruffy figure of Sawaeng Prasertnu, 36.

Mr Sawaeng was wearing a monk’s inner garment and trousers – both completely different shades of brown – but had not wrapped himself in an outer robe, as Thai monks are required to do.

Lt Phonphawi Sutsawaeng, deputy inspector of Phimai Police Station, searched the errant clergyman, but failed to find any evidence that he had been ordained.

Mr Sawaeng told the officer he had been a monk for one year already at a temple in Nakhon Phanom Province.

However, he told Lt Phonphawi that he couldn’t remember the name of the monk he was studying under.

He said he was travelling around the country because he didn’t like staying at the temple, preferring to move from place to place on his own.

The only problem was that sometimes he couldn’t find a place in the shade to rest, he said.

Local villagers all told Lt Phonphawi the same thing: that the supposed monk showed up to collect alms in the late morning or even as late as 2-3pm.

Monks in Thailand usually collect alms in the early morning and do not eat after noon.

Sometimes Mr Sawaeng would even ask for money, saying that he did so because he was not allowed to accept food in the afternoon.

Officers tried to take Mr Sawaeng to a local temple to have the abbot verify whether or not he was actually a monk, but he refused to get into the police car.

The police had to grab him by his legs and pull him into the vehicle.

But when they got to the temple, the abbot was busy with a ceremony, so they could not verify if Mr Sawaeng was a real monk.

They settled for another solution: they drove him out of Phimai District and told him he would be arrested if he ever returned.

— Khao Sod