The chief abbot at Chrey Meas Sakor pagoda in Kandal province was ousted and sent to another pagoda yesterday by the provincial chief monk amid allegations that he had sexual relationships with women and “went out” at night, in violation of Buddhist discipline.
Hundreds of local villagers gathered at the pagoda yesterday morning as about 50 police and local officials arrived with the intention of disrobing the Venerable Kang Saroeun.
Provincial chief monk Venerable Chea Sam Ang said yesterday that during the visit officials and provincial monks had decided not to disrobe Kang Saroeun and had instead ordered him to stay at another pagoda. The abbot was reportedly given a choice to leave the monkhood or move pagoda, and chose the latter.
“In order to end the dispute in the pagoda, we have moved Chief Abbot Venerable Kang Saroeun to live at another pagoda,” he said, declining to name Kang Saroeun’s new location or the reason for the dispute.
Kang Saroeun said yesterday that some 700 villagers wanted him to stay at the pagoda and had gathered to protect him from being disrobed.
“The village chief and commune chief as well as the Buddhist teacher commission has accused me of having [sex with] girls and going out at night time,” he said.
Kang Saroeun denied the allegations, claiming that the dispute instead stemmed from a five-hectare plot of land in the pagoda that was sold to a private businessman by the chief of Wat Thmey village and the pagoda’s commission.
“This is personal revenge and they defamed me,” he added.
Meanwhile, local villagers expressed dissatisfaction with the removal of Kang Saroeun.
Villager Phuong Soknim, 32, said that she did not want Kang Saroeun to leave but that she could not oppose the authorities. “I don’t want the monk to go away from this pagoda,” she said.
Or Kimchhorn, deputy governor of Muk Kampoul district, who led officials to the pagoda, said that the authorities had only come to maintain order and prevent violence.
“Let the monks resolve the monks’ dispute,” he said.