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Beggar beaten at pagoda

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A tuk-tuk parks outside Wat Ounalom in Phnom Penh yesterday.

A monk at Daun Penh district’s Wat Ounalom attacked a female beggar with a stick on Friday night after the woman allegedly cursed him at the pagoda.

Monk Sao Saroeun, 50, said yesterday that the curses had been so offensive that he lost control of his temper.

“I could not control my anger, so I beat her about four or five times when she did not listen to my suggestions,” he said. “She hurt my feelings and cursed me in front of many people.”

Chhuon Savoeun, director of the Ounalom pagoda committee in charge of monk discipline, said yesterday that pagoda officials did not see the attack as a serious transgression.

“It was wrong and against the monks’ rules, but it was not serious,” Chhuon Savoeun said, comparing the assault to the corporal punishment occasionally employed by teachers and parents.

“Patience has limits, and even I sometimes cannot contain my anger,” he added.

The woman who was attacked could not be reached for comment yesterday, though local media outlet DAP News reported that the woman was beaten on her back and torso and was later taken to Calmette Hospital for treatment. Chhuon Savoeun said Wat Ounalom, located on the tourist-heavy riverfront, is often disturbed by beggars and drug addicts. Local authorities, he added, “do not seem to take action effectively” against such intrusions, forcing the pagoda to police itself.

Sok Chhorn, chief of police in Daun Penh district’s Chey Chumneah commune, confirmed that the incident had taken place but declined to comment further.

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