Khet Khon discusses plans with villagers ... but secular authorities' noses are out of joint
Activist monk run out
HE head monk at a Prey Veng pagoda has been ousted by local authorities because,
locals say, he upset high-ranking local officials by running development and education
programs in the area.
Khot Khon was forced from his position at Wat Beng Bury by commune and district authorities
who accused him of sexual misconduct and involvement in politics.
These claims have been dismissed by locals, who said Khot Khon's only crime was to
carry out his role as a monk and at the same time organize the community to build
roads, a school, a rice bank and to rally against violence in the community.
An NGO worker said that it appeared this upset the local authorities, who saw it
as a usurption of their role.
More than 300 villagers around the wat have drafted and signed a letter asking that
the monk be reinstated and a just solution be reached.
The letter also asserted that the trouble with local authorities had been exacerbated
by the attendance at a Phkar ceremony at the wat of three Funcinpec officials - Prince
Sisowath Satha, Prey Veng governor Chong Savuth, and National Assembly member Kock
An NGO worker said she met the commune official responsible for culture and religion,
who complained that this was a sign that the monk was now a member of Funcinpec.
Attempts to resolve the dispute so that the popular Khot Khon can remain at the pagoda
have been forlorn.
On May 24, the chief monk of Kampong Trabek district met Khot Khon and offered him
a choice of either returning to the laity or moving to another pagoda.
Khot Khon has, for the meantime, abandoned the pagoda and is living in a forest he
led locals in replanting.
Now the Minister of Cults and Religion, Chea Savoeun, has announced he will send
staff to investigate the case.