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.