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Eat, pray, exercise: Thailand’s monks battle weight problems

BANGKOK: Every morning Buddhist monk Pipit Sarakitwinon takes walks around his temple and does hundreds of arm exercises, part of a new regimen aimed at shedding pounds as a health overhaul for members of the clergy gathers pace in Thailand. Followers have been showering monks -- who are deeply respected in the kingdom -- with foods loaded with sugar, fat and oil, contributing to a brewing health crisis. "Before I dieted I could barely walk 100 metres without getting tired", Pipit, 63, told AFP during a medical…

Thailand to check monks’ bad habits with new ‘smart ID cards’

BANGKOK: Thailand's Buddhist monks could soon be issued "smart ID cards" flagging any drug or criminal records, in the latest move by the junta to restore the tarnished image of the men in orange robes. The kingdom has around 300,000 monks, who are held in high regard as keepers of the national religion. But in recent months the clergy has been plagued by a series of high-profile scandals ranging from sex and drugs to murders taking place at temples. The junta, which took power in 2014, wants to reorganise Thai…

Myanmar’s hardline monks gather despite ban

YANGON: Hundreds of monks and supporters of Myanmar’s ultra-nationalist Ma Ba Tha movement gathered in a Yangon monastery Saturday, in a defiant meeting days after Buddhist authorities banned their network, which has been accused of stoking Islamophobia. The monk-led movement grew in strength under the country’s previous military-backed government, peddling a brand of Buddhist nationalism that aggravated religious unrest mainly targeted at minority Muslims. But after months of distancing itself from the radical group,…