The Ministry of Cults and Religion said yesterday it had deferred a decision on whether to file a complaint against activist monk But Buntenh to the monks’ council, which said it cannot act with Buntenh out of the country.

The ministry had criticised comments by Buntenh last week suggesting Cambodians, including the King, drank contaminated water – leading to speculation that Buntenh may be accused of violating a new lèse majesté law. Seng Somony, spokesman for the ministry, had said on Monday the government would wait for a decision from the monks’ council.

Supreme Patriarch Nun Ngeth condemned the remarks yesterday, but said no decision had been taken. “How can we educate him?” he said of Buntenh. “We don’t decide on anything because he is outside the framework and responsibility. ”

“The secretariat of the monk council said they were considering finding a way to make [Buntenh] come back to Cambodia,” he added.

Buntenh, who is also subject to another complaint levelled by a litigious politician, said he would remain abroad another two-and-a-half years. “No one can convince me without my will [to come back],” he said.