The president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia has drawn ire from monks on social media after suggesting that a law should be drafted to ensure their discipline.
The monks called Sok Touch, Royal Academy of Cambodia president, a “crazy doctor” for attempting to interfere in the affairs of monks.
Mr Touch said on Friday that the academy and the Cults and Religion Ministry should look into monks who do not follow their code of ethics and commit bad deeds.
“Religion belongs to the state, so we can request the National Assembly to look into the matter and see what they can do about it,” Mr Touch said.
Mr Touch said ever since he made the suggestion on Friday, he has been receiving negative criticism from unnamed monks online.
“If stupid people insult me, I do not mind,” he said. “But these are people who joined the monkhood that insulted me – I felt very hurt.”
Mr Touch noted that monks should not resort to insults because they are holy men. He added that monks today are undisciplined and materialistic.
His statement was quickly criticised by senior monks on Facebook who asked if the RAC has jurisdiction to request the National Assembly to draft a law.
The monks also noted that there are already systems set in place to control monks.
Venerable Khim Sorn, Cambodian Mohanikaya secretariat chief, said Mr Touch will hear from his office today.
“Our monk authority will send a clarification letter to Sok Touch on Monday over his speech on monk discipline,” Ven Sorn said. “We will tell him that it is under control already.”
Seng Somony, a Cults and Religion Ministry spokesman, said what Mr Touch said was blown out of proportion. Mr Somony said what Mr Touch said on Friday was a harmless suggestion.
“Monks are disciplined already, so we should not talk about creating laws regulating them,” he said. “I think that some monks who commit wrongdoing, that is a problem, but that doesn’t mean every monk in Cambodia commits wrongful acts.”
Mr Somony said the Supreme Sangha Council of Cambodia has been tasked with disciplining monks.
“I think the problem between the monks and Sok Touch is just a misunderstanding,” he said. “Now I am in touch with the monk authority to set up a meet between them to sort out this confusion.”