Thirteen monk supporters of Khem Veasna’s League of Democracy Party (LDP) have been “expelled” from their Kampong Speu pagoda, though the council that made the decision and the Ministry of Cults and Religions gave competing rationales for the move.
Religions Ministry undersecretary Seng Somuny yesterday said the monks had been given the boot for falsifying papers declaring themselves abbots.
But Bu Puthina, acting abbot of Kong Pisei district’s Nikroth Norakleak pagoda, where the 13 had been living, made no mention of the alleged forgery, saying the monks had been defrocked for poor discipline.
“Those monks caused many problems and have not adhered to the religious disciplines … Moreover, they mocked the abbot. Overall, they do not adhere to Buddhist disciplines, because those monks follow their group and sometimes they listen to [LDP president] Khem Veasna, not the dharma,” Puthina said.
Veasna, who has made himself unpopular with the clergy by criticising what he sees as their perversion of the teachings of Buddha, yesterday said the monks were simply paying the price for following him.
“I am sure that they will be chased away from the pagoda, only because they are LDP, not because of any other reason.”
Toum Seun, one of the defrocked monks, denied the council’s charge of troublemaking, which he said included being accused of handing senior monks urine to drink.
He said the expelled monks plan to stay at the pagoda until the Ministry of Religion intervenes.
The ministry’s Somuny said, “If there is any problem those monks should resolve it peacefully.”