A monk supporting the Cambodian Nationality Party was singled out by the National Election Commission yesterday for allegedly using insults to criticise journalists and a foreign country.
Venerable Hang Dara was singled out by the NEC after a video clip was published showing him insulting Radio Free Asia journalists and the United States during a CNP rally.
The NEC said Ven Dara was formerly the president of the Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party in 2002 before he became a monk shortly after the 2003 national election.
Som Sorida, deputy secretary-general and director of the NEC’s press team, said yesterday that the monk was not listed as a member of the party, therefore he could not be sanctioned by the NEC, which has prohibited insults from being used during the campaign period.
“Hang Dara is not listed on the NEC’s list for lawmaker candidates,” he said. “Using insults is wrong; any candidate that uses insults could be removed from our list.”
Seng Somony, Ministry of Cult and Religion spokesman, said yesterday that the violation committed by the monk was not widespread.
“Monk authorities are investigating the case,” Mr Somony said. “Please don’t misunderstand, this is an isolated problem.”
Khim Sorn, chief monk of the Phnom Penh Mohanikaya sect and chief of the Mohanikaya Monk Order, said yesterday that he wasn’t aware of the issue until it was brought up by journalists.
“If I knew about this, I would have educated him on monkhood ethics,” Ven Sorn said.
CNP president Seng Sokheng said yesterday that criticism of foreign organisations and entities should not be suppressed by the NEC.
“Some people make criticisms, and it’s not wrong,” Mr Sokheng said. “He only wanted to prevent his people from being taken advantage of by foreigners.”