Fears that controversial Shaolin abbot Shi Yongxin could flee during kung fu performance in Thailand
The controversial Shaolin abbot Shi Yongxin is set to lead a delegation to Thailand for a kungfu performance, raising concern that he might flee the country to dodge a range of scandals over his integrity, The Beijing News reported.
It was reported that Shi would lead a delegation of 100 to Thailand on Saturday, saying the event was arranged some time ago.
The allegations were posted online last week by a former disciple at the temple, using the pseudonym Shi Zhengyi.
He provided documents that he claimed showed the abbot had been expelled by famous temple in Henan province in the late 1980s for issuing fake receipts, holding double identities, and having sexual relations with several women, some of whose children he fathered.
The allegations were shared rapidly on the internet on Thursday, prompting the State Administration for Religious Affairs to order an investigation. The Buddhist Association of China also said the matter “had affected the image and reputation of Chinese Buddhism”.
The Beijing News reported today that Shi Zhengyi had provided more documents claiming the abbot was gradually transferring company properties held by Shaolin Temple to his mistress Han Mingjun.
The Chengdu Economic Daily quoted Shi Yongxin’s mother as saying that her son has no wife or daughter and had never been married. Thepaper.cn ran checks over his mother’s household registraion and found the alleged wife, mistresses and their daughters were registered as his mother’s neices and granddaughters.
The Shaolin Temple, which is more than 1,500 years old and is known as the birthplace of Zen Buddhism and Chinese martial arts, denied the accusations in a statement on its website, describing them as “groundless, vicious and libellous”. It had reported the matter to police, it added.
About 30 Shaolin disciples also issued a statement online on Thursday defending their abbot. They claimed the accuser was an ousted Shaolin disciple who had resorted to “vicious libel” for revenge.
Shi Yongxin, who holds a Master of Business Administration degree and is often spotted using an iPhone, is no stranger to controversy.
Shi, who became Shaolin’s abbot in 1999, has appeared frequently in the Chinese press, sometimes for the wrong reasons.
A delegate to the National People’s Congress and vice-chairman of the Buddhist Association of China, Shi was accused of turning the temple into a cash cow at the expense of the integrity of religious instruction, such as renting the venue to filmmakers.
In 2006, Shi came under public scrutiny after accepting a 1 million yuan (HK$1.27 million) luxury car from the local government for his contribution to tourism.
In March this year, he and the temple came under fire again for a plan to build a US$297 million hotel complex that included a temple, a live-in kung fu academy and a golf course in Australia.