Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Would-be Buddha on PM’s bad side

Would-be Buddha on PM’s bad side

A woman sits next to paintings of the self-proclaimed fifth and final Buddha last week at the Reachea pagoda in Kandal province
A woman sits next to paintings of the self-proclaimed fifth and final Buddha last week at the Reachea pagoda in Kandal province. Hong Menea

Would-be Buddha on PM’s bad side

Thean Vuthy’s claim to spiritual superiority has reached the ear of Hun Sen, and judging by the premier’s response – he demanded yesterday that the Ministry of Cult and Religion arrest Vuthy using the “American” style – he doesn’t like the sound of it.

Addressing a graduation ceremony at Koh Pich Center yesterday, Hun Sen became fixated on the somewhat obscure – until now – story of Vuthy, a monk in Kandal province who believes he is the next Buddha and whose pagoda was temporarily shut down by the authorities on Sunday. Vuthy’s whereabouts were unknown.

“Excellency Min Khin is tracking this case seriously. It’s unspeakable,” Hun Sen told the crowd, referring to the minister of cult and religion.

Officials from the ministry made the decision to shut the pagoda for one week and relocate its monks after finding jewellery and other “irregular” items, including elephant tusks and “tiger fangs”, in Vuthy’s
room during the weekend raid.

Vuthy first came to the government’s attention a few months ago when the ministry seized books, CDs and photos that touted his greatness on sale at the pagoda.

“The monk kneeled to salute a normal person who claimed [to be] a god,” Hun Sen said. “It is impossible. Even the King kneels to salute the monks, so why did the monks kneel to salute the normal person like that? It is hard to understand.”

The prime minister suggested that Vuthy be arrested like fugitives in the United States, where, he said, they are pushed to the ground, handcuffed and stepped on.

In response to the speech, Ministry of Cult and Religion spokesman Seng Somony said that authorities are still looking for the suspect. The ministry has said that Vuthy’s actions “seriously offend the values of our state religion”, but it’s not clear on what charges he could be brought before a court.

Police are looking for him, Somony said. “But we do not know where he is right now.”

MOST VIEWED

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National