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Head monk shielded by fearsome street rep

CLERGYMEN who claim they were attacked and bitten by a drunken monk say they dare not file a formal complaint against the prominent religious figure due to fears for their personal safety.

Kiet Chan Thouch, chief monk at Wat Leu, Preah Sihanouk province’s main pagoda, was accused of threatening his colleagues in an alcohol-fuelled tirade this past weekend.

But Wat Leu clergyman Mao Sam Oeun said he won’t launch a complaint. “I dare not file a complaint … because I am worried about my safety,” he said.

“He regards himself as king of monks in this province, and he is not afraid of authority. If I complain, I will die.”

Another monk in the same temple, Koa Suon, 76, claims Kiet Chan Thouch bit and threatened him but said monastic principles prevent him from complaining or being angry with others.

“It’s up to the people who live near the pagoda and the authorities,” he said.

But government officials say their hands are tied without formal complaints.

Kang Dinath, the chief of the provincial Department of Cults and Religions, said he has already spoken with Kiet Chan Thouch, who denied the biting allegations.

“Now I am waiting for the victims to file a complaint,” Kang Dinath said. “If they do not complain, we don’t know what we can do because we have conducted research already and cannot find any evidence.”

Kiet Chan Thouch, who acts as adviser to Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong, declined comment when reached by the Post Wednesday.

“I don’t want to be vindictive with people,” he said.

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