Police in the capital confiscated more than 10,000 religious books on Saturday, saying they were illegally imported, and briefly detained for questioning a man suspected of bringing them into Cambodia, officials said yesterday.
Acting on a tip from local authorities, police from the Interior Ministry’s internal security department raided a building in Prampi Makara district’s Mittapheap commune and found the books, according to Deputy National Police Chief Sok Phal.
The books were written by Taiwan-based spiritual leader Ching Hai, he said. Five thousand were written in Vietnamese and the other half were in Khmer, he said.
The spiritual leader, who calls herself the Supreme Master Ching Hai, was born in Vietnam, according to her official website, though most of her support comes from Taiwan. She is the founder of the Quan Yin Method of meditation, according to the site, and runs meditation centers in several US states. Her website lists her as the recipient of many humanitarian and philanthropic awards.
Police also arrested and questioned 43-year-old Sing Sann, who was discovered at the scene, before later releasing him, Mr Phal said.
“We did not have enough evidence to charge him yet,” he said.
Mr Phal said that the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Cults and Religions must give permission to any organization that wishes to import or export religious texts.
“It violated the law when they did not ask for permission before shipping it. I am aware that they plan to distribute it here and in Vietnam,” he said.
Mr Sann’s wife, Kim Vanny, 41, said that her husband had planned to send the books to Vietnam but claimed she did not know anything about Ching Hai or the Quan Yin Method.
Chhorn Em, secretary of state at the Religion Ministry, said he was not sure if Ching Hai or the Quan Yin Method were registered in Cambodia.
He did say that he remembered Ching Hai’s followers attempting to set up a church in Cambodia many years ago.
“I remember in 1993 the authorities cracked down on this religion when they celebrated an event without permission,” he said.