Gov’t: TV Must Show Monks in Traditional Roles

The Ministry of Information is­sued an order Monday for all tele­vision stations to stop broadcasting images of monks attending con­certs, performances and stu­dio re­cordings of television programs and events.

Information Minister Khieu Kan­harith said such images portrayed the monks in a fashion that was incongruous to the values of Buddhism. The order applies to state and private TV stations.

“There are only a small number of monks attending concerts. But monks should not be watching per­formances. They should stay at their pagodas,” he said.

Khieu Kanharith said that his ministry had no legal means to prohibit monks from appearing on TV or at­tending public perform­an­ces but that the ministry did car­ry the mandate to ban TV stations from showing them.

“I am proud of the vast majority of monks who adhere to Buddhist principles,” he said. “But if only one monk makes a mistake, it af­fects the entire monkhood.”

“[Those] monks should be ash­amed of themselves,” he added.

Cambodia’s Buddhist Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong said he supported the order and called for the ex­pulsion of monks who leave their pagoda for entertainment purposes.

“I am not aware of any monks at­tending concerts, performances or studio recordings, because I never watch television,” he said. “[But] those monks should be defrocked as fast as possible be­cause [such acts] reflect negatively upon Buddhism.” Tep Vong  ad­ded that monks seen be­­having in­appropriately in public are in most cases impostors.

“[They] are ordinary people who have disguised…themselves as monks to [more easily] commit crimes,” he said.

In July 2004, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered singers and ac­tresses to quit flaunting their bodies in short skirts and blouses and threatened to halt TV broadcasts if stations were caught showing wo­men in racy outfits.

In April last year, the Ministry of In­formation passed an order banning news programs from airing ima­ges of bloody corpses and victims of heinous crimes. The order did not apply to newspapers or maga­zines.

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