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Religion ministry mulls lawsuit against activist monk But Buntenh under lèse majesté

But Buntenh (right) speaks to Radio Free Asia on Tuesday night, for which he was later accused of insulting the King by suggesting he, and other Cambodians, drink contaminated water. RFA
But Buntenh (right) speaks to Radio Free Asia on Tuesday night, for which he was later accused of insulting the King by suggesting he, and other Cambodians, drink contaminated water. RFA

Religion ministry mulls lawsuit against activist monk But Buntenh under lèse majesté

The Ministry of Cults and Religion has said it will consider lodging a complaint against activist monk But Buntenh following his remarks that Cambodians, including the King, drink contaminated water.

Cambodian Youth Party President Pich Sros, who initially had said he was thinking about lodging a lawsuit for a breach of the newly introduced lèse majesté law, yesterday said he had turned to the Ministry of Cults and Religions to file it.

Seng Somony, spokesperson for the ministry, said he believed the case would be discussed in today’s annual meeting, along with “other wrongdoings” the monk had committed. The response could include legal action, he said.

In an interview with Radio Free Asia, published Tuesday night, Buntenh said that Prime Minister Hun Sen had granted Vietnamese settlers the right to live on the Tonle Sap river in exchange for the neighbour’s help in overthrowing the Khmer Rouge in 1979, and that they in turn had contaminated the water Cambodians drink with the waste from their floating settlements.

Carl Thayer, of the University of New South Wales, while condemning Buntenh’s comments for being derogatory toward the Vietnamese, said the new law “can be used as a legal weapon to go after opponents of the Hun Sen regime”.

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