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Controversial pagoda closed

Kandal province’s Tuol Reachea pagoda has been ordered shut for a week after authorities yesterday broke into the living quarters of Thean Vuthy, a man who claims to be the next Buddha, and found jewellery and other “irregular” items.

The joint force from the Ministry of Cults and Religion and provincial authorities found “a lot of diamonds, platinum, photos of himself, amulets, clothes, and more,” according to Phay Bunchhoeun, Kandal provincial governor.

“We do not know if the jewellery is fake or not,” Bunchhoeun said. “Our committee is investigating the matter and has thus closed the pagoda for a week.”

On June 27, authorities seized thousands of Vuthy’s books, CDs and photos that were being sold at the pagoda by vendors.

The Ministry of Cults and Religion released a letter last week saying Vuthy “seriously offends the values of our state religion of Buddhism.”

Vuthy was summonsed to “clarify, educate, and correct his views in accordance with Buddhist practices and state law,” but his current whereabouts are unknown.

Seven monks currently at Tuol Reachea have been sent to stay at the Brochum Noti pagoda in Kandal’s Takhmao town.

Toeu Srun, director of the Ministry of Cults and Religion in Kandal’s Koh Thom district, said he did not know when the monks would be allowed to return.

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