Monks Chase CPP Lawmaker From Pagoda

A CPP lawmaker from Preah Vihear province was chased out of a Phnom Penh pagoda Wednesday after he enraged villagers by expressing a lack of sympathy for their land dispute, according to witnesses.

Sous Yara, a member of the National Assembly from Preah Vihear, on Wednesday traveled to the Samakki Raingsey pagoda to meet with 156 families from the province who have been demonstrating in Phnom Penh in an attempt to persuade national-level authorities to intervene in their dispute over 570 hectares of land.

But instead of helping, Mr. Yara only angered the villagers, said the pagoda’s deputy abbot, Thach Ha Sam Ang.

“He said: ‘Why are people going to Phnom Penh to protest and demand their land,’” Mr. Ha Sam Ang said.

“He tried to stop us from speaking…he came to make the villagers angry. He did not come to find a solution for the villagers, but he came to threaten and intimidate,” he said.

A six-minute video posted to Facebook shows some of the heated exchange between Mr. Yara, monks and villagers.

After about two minutes of discussion, the monks begin to shout and point at Mr. Yara.

“If you keep interrupting me, how can I speak?” Mr. Yara says in response.

The parliamentarian then moves toward the exit of the pagoda as the monks continue to yell. Finally, he sprints away from the building as a handful of monks and villagers give chase.

But Mr. Ha Sam Ang denied that monks pursued Mr. Yara.

“We did not chase him away or try to hit him, but he was scared and ran away by himself,” he said.

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