Baley Thmey pagoda committee head Eng Sy and 400 other locals in Takeo province’s Samrong district have accused Venerable Oum Vutha, chief monk at the pagoda, of having a love affair with a woman.
On Tuesday, they alleged that Vutha asked them to help him get engaged with a woman in the village and promised that if she agrees, he would leave the monkhood.
Sy said Vutha asked him and other laymen at the pagoda to assist him in securing the engagement. However, after the woman accepted, Vutha refused to leave and even brought his fianceé to live with him.
“A couple of days after she agreed to marry him, we saw that the chief monk had taken her to live with him in his residence.
“Since then, Vutha has rarely stayed at the pagoda and spent most of his time at his residence with the girl. After that, the girl got pregnant and needed to abort the baby,” Sy claimed.
Sieng Khom, Ta Sak village chief of Chomras Pen commune, said the locals no longer wanted Vutha at the pagoda.
“We cannot let the chief monk stay in the pagoda anymore. We sent a request to officials, including the provincial office, to defrock Vutha . . . At first, he said he will leave the monkhood to get married. But after he got engaged, he refused to leave . . . If he wants a wife, he should leave the monkhood first. Don’t violate Buddhist rules,” he said.
Vutha could not be reached for comment. However, he is said to have confessed to breaking monkhood rules to the laymen and villagers, saying that he did get engaged, but the woman has only been doing chores.
“The allegations regarding the engagement are true, but I have only asked her to clean my residence. Her salary is 200,000 riel [$50] and a bag of rice a month.”
Ministry of Cults and Religion spokesman Seng Somony said he has only just received information on the case.
He said if the story is true, Vutha will have to face discipline.
“Before punishment, we need to examine and collect evidence to avoid any misunderstanding. This is a strange case, it has never happened before. We will act according to the rules of the monkhood and applicable laws. We can’t let this happen again. We will work to discover the truth,” Somony said.