Around 200 monks and residents in Svay Rieng’s Romduol district are planning to march tomorrow in protest of the Ministry of Cults and Religion’s alleged wrongful dismissal of the community’s Buddhist abbot.
Monk En Puthy was removed from his post as Chey Mony pagoda’s abbot last August by the ministry’s Romduol district directors.
Puthy told the Post that he was accused of neglecting the pagoda’s development, blocking the government’s irrigation digs and supporting the opposition through his work as a land rights activist.
“I didn’t do what I’m being accused of,” said Puthy, who was appointed abbot in 2012. “I do work to help the community and the pagoda every day so people are supporting me.”
Protesters plan to march the 25 kilometres from the Chey Mony pagoda to the Ministry of Cults and Religion’s Romduol office and submit the petition to reinstate Puthy.
This is the second petition that protesters are filing after no action was taken following the previous one.
“Reverent En Puthy did a lot of things right at the pagoda and helping people affected by land grabs. He should not be fired so we’re participating and demanding justice for him,” pagoda resident Prom Yom said.
So far, the petition has at least 310 thumbprints from supporting villagers and monks.
Provincial ministry official Chan Sokeat, however, said that Puthy’s ouster is only temporary.
According to Sokeat, the monk was deposed from the job because he could not dedicate enough time to the pagoda due to classes he was taking in Phnom Penh.
Puthy said he finished business management courses in Phnom Penh last year and plans to get his master’s in business administration soon.
“We will appoint him back when he finishes school,” Sokeat said.
Officials have appointed another monk to temporarily replace Puthy.