Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith on Monday ordered all electronic media to stop broadcasting a controversial song dealing with the love life of a Buddhist monk.
He said that performances of “Regret for Leaving the Monkhood Because of Love” were dishonoring obedient monks who have abandoned love and pleasure as part of Buddhist discipline.
“I’ve had many complaints from elderly people,” Khieu Kanharith said Monday.
“The performances of actors and actresses are quite dangerous, because they show a monk…looking into the breasts of a woman who brought foods to offer him.”
He said he is also planning to ban two other songs by the same production company and threatened radio and television stations with one or two months’ closure if they defy his orders.
The song was written by popular filmmaker Fai Sam Ang and produced by Socheat Salapheap.
It was originally performed by film actor and singer Heng Bun Leap earlier this year. It has become a popular request for televised concerts, said SSB Production Director Kong Socheat.
“I am not disappointed by the order, because it does not affect my business much,” she said.
Orders from abroad for recordings of the song are increasing, he said.
Fai Sam Ang could not be reached for comment Monday.
Striking a balance between freedom of expression and cultural and religious respect is difficult, said Thun Saray, president of rights group Adhoc, who hadn’t heard “Regret for Leaving the Monkhood Because of Love.”
“Generally I prefer to have freedom of expression, because expression is not only by speaking or writing,” Thun Saray said.
“But the government also protects some religious and cultural values. It’s still not clear about the border between the respect for religion and culture and the freedom of expression,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Ethan Plaut)