Shi Ming Yi

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Ming Yi
School Mahayana
Nationality Singaporean
Senior posting
Title Venerable Shi Ming Yi

Ven. Shi Ming Yi (Chinese: 释明义; birth name Goh Kah Heng; born 1962) is a Buddhist monk from Singapore.


Venerable Shi Ming Yi has been the abbot of Foo Hai Ch'an Monastery[1] in Singapore. In September 1994, Foo Hai Ch'an Monastery, under the leadership of Ming Yi, established the 175-bed Ren Ci Hospital and Medicare Centre for chronically ill patients among the poor and needy. In 1996, the Singapore government awarded the Public Service Medal to Ming Yi in recognition of his contributions to the country. In September 1998, the hospital established its affiliate, Ren Ci Day Care Centre for the Elderly. In 1999, Foo Hai Ch'an Monastery took over the management of 270 beds in 11 single-storey wards which were formerly part of Tan Tock Seng Hospital.[2] It organised fund raising activities such as concerts with such luminaries as Andy Lau, Liza Wang, Adam Cheng, Roman Tam, and Frances Yip who performed for free. Ming Yi took over the abbotship of the Kun Chung Temple in Hong Kong, the Kwan Inn Temple in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, and the vice-chairmanship of the affiliated Heung Hoi Ching Kok Lin Association[citation needed].

On 7 October 2009, Ming Yi was convicted of four charges of conspiracy, misuse of funds and forgery[3] and sentenced to 10 months in jail, reduced on appeal to 6 months. The Public Service Medal awarded in 1996 was then removed by the President of Singapore, S R Nathan, subsequent to Shi Ming Yi's conviction and imprisonment for conspiracy, misuse of funds and forgery with effect from 23 May 2011.[4]

Educational Qualification[edit]

Ming Yi received his Masters in Healthcare Management from the University of Wales.[5]

It was reported that the venerable claimed to hold a PhD in Philosophy that was awarded by "Mannin University" in Ireland, a university whose existence could not be verified. Ming Yi's spokesman commented that the research degree was undertaken through distance learning and that the monk never visited the university.[6]

Ren Ci Hospital Controversy[edit]

In November 2007, Ren Ci Hospital was investigated by the Charity Council of Singapore for three possible violations of the Code of Governance for Charities and Institutions of a Public Character. Ming Yi was alleged to have made interest-free loans in violation of Ren Ci's own guidelines on Financial Management and Controls and Disclosure and Transparency, and had also served as both Board chairman and CEO of the hospital which was an infringement of existing guidelines since it creates a potential conflict of interest and a lack of check and balances.[7]

In the course of the investigations by the auditing firm Ernst & Young, a few financial transactions could not be satisfactorily explained. To get a clearer picture, the Ministry of Health referred the case to the Commercial Affairs Department in February 2008 and the final outcome of the investigation was completed in March 2008.[8]

Ming Yi was arrested after a five-month probe. On 14 July 2008, he stepped down from all his positions regarding charities. The arrest came five months after he went on long leave when the police were asked to probe the charity's finances. His trial commenced on 15 July 2008. The Ministry of Health found 'possible irregularities' in Ren Ci's records after an audit.

At the heart of the issue were questionable loans made by the hospital, amounting to several million dollars. Some of these loans were allegedly given to companies with links to the venerable. There were also loans given to a helper with the charity as well as investments made over the years in his name.[9] Assets that were questioned also included a multi-million dollar condominium in Singapore, properties in Australia and Seattle, a luxury BMW car, a racehorse named Venezuela, and diving holidays.[10]

On 7 October 2009, Ming Yi was found guilty of misappropriating Ren Ci's funds by approving the loan, falsifying accounts and giving false information to the Commissioner of Charities (COC)[3] He was sentenced to 10 months in jail and appealed the case.[11][12] On 27 May 2010 Justice Tay Yong Kwang dismissed the appeal but reduced the sentence from 10 months to 6 months based on Ming Yi's significant contributions to Ren Ci and society; Ming Yi began his jail sentence immediately.[13]

On 26 August 2010, Ming Yi was released from prison after serving four months; he was given one-third remission on his jail term for good behaviour but put on the home detention scheme in which he was electronically tagged and only allowed to leave the house at fixed times.[14] He completed his sentence on 27 September 2010.[15] For the six remaining charges he was given a discharge amounting to an acquittal for them.[16]