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Monk and activist trade invectives in a row over Kem Ley stupa funding

Mourners surround a vehicle carrying the body of slain political commentator Kem Ley during his funeral in July last year. heng chivoan
Mourners surround a vehicle carrying the body of slain political commentator Kem Ley during his funeral in July last year. Heng Chivoan

Monk and activist trade invectives in a row over Kem Ley stupa funding

Cambodian Youth Party (CYP) President Pich Sros labelled activist monk But Buntenh a “liar” during a nearly two-hour rant over accusations that Sros laundered money raised for the late Kem Ley’s funeral stupa.

The popular political analyst was gunned down last year in an assassination widely believed to be politically motivated. Sros announced last month that he would participate in 30 days of fundraising to help pay for Ley’s stupa.

“I don’t want to argue with a monk, but you are the monk who wants to make war with people . . . But Buntenh is a liar monk,” Sros said in the video uploaded to Facebook on Saturday.

In the video, Sros turned the accusation of money laundering back at Buntenh.

“You are not answering where the money goes, but you come to attack me,” he said.

Sros stood by the comments in an interview yesterday, but admitted his fundraiser spent far more money than it raised.

Sros only raised $750 after spending $2,300 on food, gasoline, transportation and general “support”, but claimed the fundraiser’s failure was an honest one.

“I hoped the supporters of Dr Kem Ley would support this effort to bring money . . . but actually Kem Ley supporters are not interested in this fundraising effort. I invited them to donate . . . I can’t force them to donate,” he said, adding he was “very disappointed”.

Cham Bunthet, an adviser to the Grassroots Democracy Party founded by Ley, said many groups have tried to take advantage of Ley’s death for political capital, and many fundraising efforts have been less than transparent.

“They use him as a means to build political popularity . . . there are a lot of hidden agendas behind the Kem Ley fundraising . . . not only the Cambodian Youth Party, but other groups too,” Bunthet said.

The CYP has previously been known as a thorn in the CNRP’s side, with Sros filing a lawsuit against opposition leader Kem Sokha over comments implying that a vote for a minor party was a “wasted” vote.

“I’m not sure about their political values, they just attack the opposition,” Bunthet said.

Upon Sokha’s arrest, Sros was quick to post a statement on Facebook approving of the opposition leader’s detention.

The monk Buntenh could not be reached yesterday, but took to Facebook over the weekend to condemn both Sokha’s arrest and Sros’s video in separate posts. The monk called Sros “illiterate” and warned that Sros’s “words and actions” would reveal his true intentions.

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