Monks Decry Claims of Anti-King Protests

ponhea leu district, Kandal pro­vince – Locals and monks at Wat Chan Monivong have reacted an­grily to opposition leader Sam Rain­sy’s claims that their pagoda was the intended launching site for demonstrations against King Norodom Sihanouk.

Samrong commune police Chief Vong Khun and villagers on Sun­day presented the thumb­prints of 271 supposedly outraged locals, who denied planning to protest the King’s return, and said they had collected close to 700 more thumbprints.

Wat Chan Monivong’s chief monk, Noy Chrek, said the thumb­­prints and a written complaint will be sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court and the Ministry of Interior.

Noy Chrek said he will also re­quest that Sam Rainsy be stripped of his parliamentary immunity, prosecuted for defamation and have his party disbanded.

He suggested that Sam Rainsy build a new temple for Wat Chan Monivong as compensation.

“It is important to clarify to the King that I am innocent and I am pressing defamation charges,” Noy Chrek said.

Sam Rainsy wrote to King Si­hanouk Wednesday warning of violent protests, should he return to Phnom Penh from Beijing on Thursday as scheduled.

Sam Rainsy cited an anonymous but trustworthy informant who said the protests would be organized by powerful persons hoping to pin the anti-Sihanouk unrest on the opposition party.

National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh has blamed Sam Rainsy’s letter for the King’s subsequent abdication.

Sam Rainsy told reporters last week that some of the intelligence his source had given included a tip that “some elements” had gathered on Wednesday at a Kandal province pagoda on National Route 5, on the Phnom Penh-side of the Prek Khdam ferry crossing.

This allegation was repeated in a letter to the Ministry of Interior in response to its request that he elaborate on his warnings.

Noy Chrek and other officials  at the Wat Chan Monivong said that about 10 members of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit had been at the pagoda on Wednesday.

But their mission was to ensure the security of the wives of their de facto commander Hing Bun­heang and co-Minister of Defense Tea Banh, who were visiting for the Pchum Ben festival, the officials said. Noy Chrek said that Hing Bunheang had been one of several hundred boys who grew up in a pagoda under his care.

Opposition Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said Sunday that Sam Rainsy never defamed anyone in Ponhea Leu district. “Sam Rainsy just mentioned that the demonstration would likely emerge from Wat Chan Moni­vong, but he did not accuse the chief monk or the people in the district of being behind the demonstration,” he said. Sam Rainsy remained in Bang­kok on Sunday evening.


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