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Monks defrocked over drug use in Kampot pagodas

Monks defrocked over drug use in Kampot pagodas

Four teenage monks from two different pagodas were sent to the chief of the pagoda for defrocking before being sent to the Drug Addict Relief Association.

Kampot provincial police chief Mao Chanmathurith told The Post on Sunday that anti-drug police from Kampot police station arrested the four monks on Friday.

Two of them were arrested in Dang Tong district and two others in Chhouk district for drug use. The person who supplied them with the drugs was also detained.

Chanmathurith said the four monks were taken to the pagoda chief for defrocking. They were instructed not to consume drugs again and told to sign a contract to that effect.

The four were then allowed to return to their families, but their parents asked authorities to help them deal with their drug addictions.

“We did not send the case of the four monks to court, but taught them to stop using drugs and handed them over to their parents,” Chanmathurith said.

“However, their parents asked us to help them recover from drug addiction. Therefore, we sent them to Drug Addict Relief Association in Kampot,” Chanmathurith said.

He said the alleged drug trafficker, 22, who lives in Dang Tong district was sent to the court on Saturday. Kampot provincial court decided to detain him for drug dealing.

According to the report from the anti-drug office, the monks are between 15 and 17 years old.

A 56-year-old farmer from Chhouk district Heng Phearak told The Post that some parents asked the chief monk to allow youths to become monks as they were spoiled and could no longer be educated.

They hoped their children would become better people if they became monks.

However, they did not think of the negative consequences, like some of their children disgracing Buddhism, the state religion.

“Before people enter the monkhood, it is important to know their character as they could affect the dignity of other monks and degrade the value of Buddhism,” he said.

Dang Tong district deputy chief monk Peng Sam Ath told The Post that he could not hide these troublesome findings from the authorities.

“Before allowing someone to become a monk, I always ask for their history and health record from the parents. It is not entirely up to me,” said Sam Ath.

Ministry of Cults and Religion spokesman Seng Somony told The Post that the problems of Buddhism in Cambodia are normally caused by individuals in the community.

“In the case of monks abusing drugs at the pagoda, this problem was caused by an outsider who persuaded the novices to try it. He mixed the drug with Coca-Cola. So the monks are really the victims,” he said.

The ministry said all monks should advocate against drugs, especially those who have roles as educators within the monkhood.

“It includes not allowing someone who used to commit wrongdoing, for instance, to become a monk”, said Somony.

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