AUTHORITIES in Prey Veng province have ordered a Buddhist abbot to move from his pagoda for his own safety after villagers accused him of committing acts that violated the teachings of the Buddha.
Local villagers have accused Sok Da, abbot of the Neak Rainsey pagoda in Prey Veng’s Ba Phnom district, of drinking wine and having sexual intercourse.
Chea Vanny, the province’s chief monk, said there was no evidence that the abbot had committed the offences.
“They have accused him because they want to evict that monk from the pagoda, and they have the support of the district governor behind them,” he said.
He said the dispute stemmed from an incident in which the abbot’s dog allegedly ate food reserved for the youngest monk in the pagoda, who has relatives in the district governor’s office.
“It is a small problem, but they want to make it into a big case and evict the abbot from the pagoda,” he said.
District chief monk Nuth Vannak said that they had requested that the abbot relocate to another pagoda following investigations.
“He did not do what people have accused him of, so we can’t defrock him, but we requested that he stay at a new pagoda to end the dispute,” he said. “If he stays in that pagoda, the dispute will not end and he could face violence.”
But Sok Da said that if he moved, he would be admitting guilt.
“The reason they accuse me is because I am strict with the pagoda committee when they take money,” he said. “I will not leave this pagoda because I did nothing wrong.”
Sok Da’s supporters have collected 624 thumbprints to take to Supreme Patriarch Nun Nget in Phnom Penh, asking for intervention in the case.