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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Judge pulls rank but fails to silence wat

Judge pulls rank but fails to silence wat

Phnom Penh Supreme Court Judge Kong Phirun is making a second attempt to silence

a noisy early morning gong at Wat Lanka near his house.

He has written to local authorities and the Ministry of Cults and Religions, requesting

that the 4 am gong be stopped by somebody.

He says the gong is hit twice a day at 4 am and 6 pm for at least 10 minutes; the

wat insists it's only five minutes. The wat is near the Independence Monument, at

the corner of St 51 and Sihanouk Boulevard.

Phirun's letter states: " We get interfered with our well living every 4 am

by the Wat Lanka hitting gong to wake monks up. It is an immorality. It is not a

complaint. It is just a protest because I am so bored with the noise."

However So Sarith, Director of Samdech Preah Pothevang Nun Nget Buddhism High School

at Wat Lanka, said it was difficult to limit the gonging time when 255 monks had

to be woken up. Only a wat having a small number of monks could beat the gong for

a short time.

Phirun said he asked Wat Lanka monks last year to mute the gong but got no result.

So on August 18 he wrote to the district governor, the Minister of Cults and Religions

and Wat Lanka.

Phirun said he protested on behalf of citizens living around the wat. "I want

the wat to be a bit progressive. Do not be too old. This is central Phnom Penh city,

not out in the countryside."

But the Abbot of Wat Lanka, Sao Chanthol, stated in his reply to the Minister that

Phirun's letter was a complaint that contained suggestions of "hating the wat

and Buddhism".

Chanthol said: "I am very sorry to receive Kong Phirun's complaint. He is a

Khmer child and also has a position as a Supreme Court judge. Kong Phirun should

not use the frightening words such as 'immorality, violate citizen's rights living

around Wat Lanka' and so on."

Chanthol said that during the three months of rainy season, it was the tradition

at wats throughout Cambodia for monks to meet in the evening at 6 pm and early morning

at 4 am.

He urged Kong Phirun to contact Wat Lanka directly, "but Kong Phirun has so

little general cultural knowledge that he misunderstands that the white becomes the

black."

Judge Phirun said: "When hearing the ringing gong/bell, I as well as others

always imagine the Pol Pot regime giving the sign that it's time to work or to eat

food."

Phirun said the reason why he wrote his title on the letter was because he wanted

to use his position to get some action. "If ordinary people protest, the people

in high places do nothing."

So far he has had no response to his letters. "They must get stuck somewhere,"

he said on Tuesday, August 24.

When the Post contacted Sun Kim Hun, Acting Minister of the Ministry of Cults and

Religions, he said he had not yet received Kong Phirun's letter.

Lo Yuy, District Governor of Chamkar Mon, said he got Phirun's letter on August 18,

but he does not know how to deal with the case. Yuy said he did not know much about

Buddhism.

"The wat says their religious tradition going back many years requires them

to ring the gong and the other living nearby says that when monks ring the gong it

interferes with his sleeping," Yuy said. "So they say it's up to the Ministry

of Cults and Religions."

He said the two parties should negotiate with each other to solve the problem.

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