Friday, 11 July 2014

More Than Starving the Monks

“Now there are [people] using the religious sector – monks and Buddhism – for political purposes. This is a very dangerous problem. This problem is making Buddhism evaporate and this is very dangerous….. We need to find the solution to solve this problem.”

Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong, 19 December 2013

“អង្គអនុសំវច្ឆរមហាសន្និបាតមន្ត្រីសង្ឍទូទាំងប្រទេសលើកទី ២០ បានសម្រេចគាំទ្រយ៉ាងពេញទំហឹង​នូវ​បេក្ខភាពសម្តេចអគ្គមហាសេនាបតី តេជោ ហ៊ុន សែន ជានាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រី សម្រាប់អាណត្តិខាងមុខ និងអាណត្តិ​ក្រោយៗទៀត ...”

សង្ឃប្រកាស លេខ១០៤/១១ ស.ន.ក.ជ ចុះថ្ងៃទី២១ ខែធ្នូ ឆ្នាំ ២០១១

“But if the monks vote and take one side, there will be discrimination in pagodas and we are afraid the monks will starve. In the past few months, the contributions to Buddhism have decreased by $1 million. When Khmer New Year comes, will [donations] continue to decrease or not? How about Pchum Ben next year, are [donations] going to decrease again? If in one year there is a decrease of $1 million, and this decrease happens two or three times, the monks will starve.”

Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong, 19 December 2013

"...ទេ ចុះមកឆ្កួតជាមួយនឹងអាត្មាម៉េច អាឆ្កួត មកឲ្យធ្វើអំពាវនាវម៉េច កុំមកនាំអញឆ្កួត អញមិនឆ្កួតទេវើយ អញប្រាប់មិញហើយថា ច្បាប់ជារឿងរបស់ខ្លួនឯងទេ កុំនាំអញឆ្កួត អញមិនឆ្កួតជាមួយពួកអាជំគួតអស់ហ្នឹងទេ។"

The Great Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong, 17 December 2013

“Don’t come to beg from them [the government]. They have no rice for you. They only have dog shit for you.”

The Great Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong, 17 December 2013

Pa Socheatvong must be suffering from either ignorance or a simple case of selective attention. Either way, his outburst on the use of monks and religion in politics is remarkable and may be very revealing.

First, it is indeed hard to see how Pa Socheatvong, or the CPP, can claim a moral high ground when the top monk establishments in the country openly declare its strong endorsement for Hun Sen candidacy in national elections.

Second, the drop in contributions to monks Pa Socheatvong claims is most interesting, unless he is lying to put pressure on monks supporting the demonstrations. It is reasonable to assume since the CPP has a full control over the monk establishments, the drop and the amount he refers are likely to be accurate.

It is possible Pa Socheatvong is right when he claims the drop is attributable to congregations being sick and tired of monks playing politics, or being used for political gains.

He ignores other possibilities, however. Given the congregations are made up of decent people, it is likely that the public display of vulgarity by the top monk has eventually got to them. The growing reluctant CPP supporters may see the political stuff-up after the elections as an opportunity to stop, or reduce, funding for monks’ SUVs and their layman lifestyle. Some would say even Tep Vong’s claim that the government has only “dog shit” for the people is not exactly a vote of confidence in the CPP either.

This one million dollar drop in donations to pagodas within the few months must be significant, and worries Pa Socheatvong sick. Why else does he speak of starving the monks? Or he is just playing politics, and lies.



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