Chief Monk Defrocked for Drinking at KTV

A chief monk from a Kompong Speu province pagoda was defrocked Wednesday after Kandal provincial police caught him drinking with police officers at a karaoke club, officials said.

Takhmao City police chief Sin Buthbondith said he received a tip that Song Ratanak, the chief monk of Champa Cha pagoda in Kompong Speu’s Kong Pisei district, was drinking at the Diamond Palace karaoke club in Takhmao City on Tuesday night.

“After the tip, we deployed our force and arrested him when he left the club,” Mr. Buthbondith said. “This is the third time that this monk has been seen entering the club.”

Mr. Buthbondith conceded that Mr. Ratanak was not committing any crime by changing clothes and pursuing entertainment, but insisted his officers had a duty to detain and hand him over to his superiors to be defrocked as a monk.

“He did nothing wrong [criminally], but this relates to the religion of the state,” Mr. Buthbondith said. When a highly respected monk discredits the religion, police must intervene, he explained.

Mr. Buthbondith added that at least two of the other four men with the monk were police officers from outside Takhmao City.

Mr. Ratanak, 37, was detained overnight without charge and released to his superiors Wednesday, when he was defrocked.

Kompong Speu provincial chief monk Dou Vandoeun said Mr. Ratanak’s actions were contrary to Buddhist doctrine.

“I am very surprised and disappointed because the individual that we trusted turned out to be involved in such bad thing,” he said.

Ang Popel commune chief Prom Nai said Mr. Ratanak joined Champa Cha pagoda about a year ago because of a “controversy” at his previous pagoda in Kandal province.

“I did not like him since the beginning because he engaged in bad behavior and took time to go outside the pagoda for pleasure,” Mr. Nai said.

District police chief Khim Sophannara confirmed that a police officer from Ang Papel commune was with the monk at the time of his arrest.

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