Ex-Religion Minister Min Khin Dead at 78

Min Khin, whose long tenure as minister of cults and religion ended earlier this year in a cabinet reshuffle, died on Friday after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 78.

Min Khin died at his Phnom Penh home at about 2 a.m. after returning to Cambodia when doctors in Bangkok said there was nothing more they could do to treat his deteriorating condition.

“He died because of his old age and his illness,” said Seng Somony, a spokesman for the Cults and Religion Ministry. “When he arrived in Cambodia, he was still alive, but he was using an oxygen tank.”

Min Khin’s passing followed false reports of his death on Thursday, leading several major media outlets to publish revised articles.

Min Khin was ill for many years and frequently sought medical treatment in Thailand, but his condition had worsened in the past few months, Mr. Somony said.

His son, Min Madeth, said on Thursday that the family wanted to bring him back to Phnom Penh to spend his final days at home.

A member of the ruling CPP’s standing committee, Min Khin became minister of cults and religion in 2008. He remained in the position until a March 16 cabinet reshuffling, when he switched positions with Him Chhem, a senior minister in charge of special missions.

The past few years have been challenging for the ministry, which has been forced to reckon with a notable rise in criminal behavior by Buddhist monks around the country, including rape, murder, drug trafficking and child sex abuse.

Born in Takeo province, Min Khin was a Phnom Penh Municipal Court clerk in the 1960s and later served as a military judge, according to Ngem Valy, an undersecretary of state at the ministry. A laborer during the Khmer Rouge years, he spent the 1980s and 1990s working for the Royal Palace Ministry, the Solidarity Front and the National Committee for Organizing National and International Festivals.

He had been deputy chief of the Solidarity Front since 2006 and was secretary of state and acting minister of the Cults and Religion Ministry.

Min Khin is survived by his wife Ngoun Thoun, two daughters and four sons.

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