The Ministry of Cults and Religion yesterday began investigating the actions of a man in Takeo province who has been passing himself off as a Buddha, duping villagers out of money, a scheme he has been arrested for in the past.
In a video clip posted by a local news website, the provincial department director for the ministry, Chuong Van, is seen talking with the accused, Thean Vuthy.
“Please Mr Vuthy, don’t do something that harms Buddhism,” Mr Van said. “Please cooperate with our authorities.”
Mr Vuthy told provincial officials that he has always cooperated and asked for prior permission before holding his ceremonies.
“I think that I am not wrong because I just hold ceremonies to follow Brahmanism and god,” Mr Vuthy said. “I never think to become a king; I just wish to become a Buddha.”
Mr Vuthy, who built Kandal province’s Tuol Preah Reachea pagoda, became notorious after he was accused of claiming to be the fifth reincarnation of the Buddha, known as the Maitreya, and “offending Buddhism” in the process.
In 2014, he was arrested and later released after admitting his mistakes and promising not to do it again.
Takeo Governor Lay Vannak said authorities have not any taken any action against him yet because they first want to discuss the case with him.
“We just went to question him,” Mr Vannak said. “We want to make sure his activities are not defrauding people.”
“District authorities will make a report about this questioning and send it to me.
“Then I will ask the Ministry of Cults and Religion and Ministry of Interior what the next steps should be,” he added