This is a sensitive issue, so I am just going to make a single statement only. Leong Hwa Chan Si Temple’s Reverend Meow Ee earns peanuts too! For the uninitiated, the value of a single peanut is pegged at S$600,000 (S$1.35 = US$1 at present exchange rates). This came about because Mrs Goh Chok Tong, wife of Senior Minister Goh and patron of the NKF commented that "$600,000 per year is peanuts compared to the reserves the NKF has"; sparking The Peanut Controversy, in which the public was irked by this comment (Source: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._T._Durai).

It’s always the nifty gritty details that get people into unwanted limelight. If the monk is doing a good job and managing everything well and above board, would it be right for people like me to judge him? What rights do I have to say that he can’t indulge in life’s finer things (referring to his Mercedes-Benz) and that he can’t be paid more just because he is a monk?

Reading the article, I also wonder how does his pay come into picture – although it’s all about money. If money is indeed the root of all evil, and if owning more of it makes one more evil, then Singapore is quite filled with evil people. =)

Sorry, just a cheek-in-tongue.

AN ONGOING legal battle between a Buddhist temple and its former business partner has thrown light on the big pay cheques and business interests of its top monk.

A court was told that the Venerable Meow Ee, 41, of the Leong Hwa Chan Si Temple in the Novena area, had been earning $100,000 a year in the last few years; his bumper year was 2001, when he took home $660,000.

The monk and his family are also said to own several businesses and properties.

He took the stand last Thursday in the suit filed by construction firm United Fiber System (UFS) in 2005 against the temple and other parties – Hok Mee Property, Hok Chung Construction and a Mr Kek Kim Hok – over a payment dispute.

UFS is seeking, among other things, compensation for an unpaid $13.3 million loan to the partnership.

Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao reported that the Venerable Meow has stakes in four companies under the name Chia Eng Soon.

Under cross-examination, he admitted setting up a company with his brother to help the temple sell covers for columbarium niches, but denied profiting from the business.

Asked about his Mercedes-Benz, he denied indulging in life’s finer things and said he bought the car while in his previous job as an army regular.

The temple’s dispute goes back to 1999, when UFS – then known as Poh Lian Holdings – financed a project with the temple and Hok Mee Property to build a columbarium.

The construction company handed out advances of $15.6 million and stood as guarantor for a $24.8 million loan, but the debt repayments went unmade.

Hearing resumes today.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 20th May 2008



Reader's Comments

  1. Wendy | May 21st, 2008 at 2:09 am

    hi jean, it’s tongue-in-cheek 😛

    cheek cannot be in tongue.

  2. ignorantsoup | May 21st, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Lol..Maybe tongue too small so must use cheek meat to fatten, so cheek in tongue..hahaha..

    hmm..everyone else earns peanuts ba..haha..except peasants

  3. vinyarb | May 21st, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    hmmm… if the value of a single peanut is pegged at S$600,000.. then he’s only paid 1/6 of a peanut per year ma… it was only in 2001 that he got a single peanut.

    He must be a top monk. maybe must perform 10,000 rituals a month to hit that target?

  4. Jeff | May 21st, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    100k a year is really peanuts. think most pastors or other more famous celeb religious leaders earns
    much more. It is a matter of definition whether the money is allowance or salary.

    If he was a slightly more senior army officer, he can probably draw the same amount or more in the past before becoming a monk.

  5. Zhanzhao | May 21st, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Jeff, I think the point is that unlike other relegions you gave in your example, buddhist monks are supposed to have taken a vow of detachment from the material world…..wealth being one of the key things they should avoid. Its for exactly the same reason the other monk (
    Shi Ming Yi) was questioned about his luxury car.

  6. Daily SG: 21 May 2008 « The Singapore Daily | May 22nd, 2008 at 10:45 am

    […] Discourse – Chemical Generation Singapore: Educate, Castigate but not Regulate – Simply Jean: Guess who earns peanuts too? – To Fix a Mocking Peasant: The Iron Fist Behind Soft Authoritarianism – URBANRANT: Sydney campus […]

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