The tranquillity of the Angkor temple complex was disturbed on Sunday, Nov. 14, when
the chief monk was brutally murdered with an ax in the pagoda next to the Bayon.
Four thieves tied up the guard at 11pm and then forced their way into the pagoda,
demanding money and gold. One of the monks, Nuol Muon, 60, was shot through the left
hand with an AK-47 assault rifle as he tried to stop them.
The robbers then broke into the room of the chief monk, 69-year-old Mak Sum, grabbed
a wood-cutting ax from the wall, and delivered several blows over the head and neck.
They fled an hour later with 40,700 riels and some Thai baht which had been donated
the day before. They also stole eight statues and other objects belonging to the
The monks took Mak Sum, bleeding profusely from severe head wounds, by motorbike
to the provincial hospital in Siem Reap where he died on Monday morning at 10am.
Regional Chief of Police, General Chea Sophat, said investigations indicated the
robbers came from nearby Nokokrao, a village 8km northwest of the Bayon, and that
Khmer Rouge were not suspected.
He said on Friday, Nov. 19, a clock stolen from the pagoda was recovered behind a
house in the village.
He described the murder as "shocking because in Cambodia everyone respects Buddha."
One long-time foreign resident told the Post the army had already found the gang
and punished them accordingly. Unwilling to comment further, he concluded: "They
won't be committing any more murders or robberies."
A moving funeral ceremony on Nov. 18 was held at the Bayon with the decorated coffin
held aloft as the cortege walked around the temple.
The coffin was then placed in the pagoda, festooned with flowers, incense and offerings
where it will lie for one year before the body is cremated.
The pagoda was filled with mourners for several days and the monks chanted continuously,
while people from Siem Reap and the outlying districts, many of them Mak Sum's students,
came to pay their respects.
"He was known and venerated throughout the provinces," added Nuol Muon.
The murder coincided with a number of festivals in the area, marking the end of the
Premier Prince Norodom Ranarridh arrived on Sunday, Nov. 21, and together with the
governor of Siem Reap, Nou Sam, attended the Kathen Tean, the clothing ceremony,
at the pagoda in front of the Royal residence.