Ratanakkiri Officials Say No Gambling at Pagoda

Ratanakkiri province officials have refused a Buddhist clergyman’s request to establish a gambling den inside a pagoda during its inauguration ceremony, an official said March 23.

Banlung district’s Labanseak commune council is now monitoring Phum Thmei pagoda closely, and will arrest anyone caught gambling on the premises, said Kong Chan, second deputy commune chief. “I must arrest them…if the pagoda allows gambling to take place,” he said.

Kong Chan said he was ap­proached by clergyman An Ann in recent days, who asked him to turn a blind eye to the proposed card games.

The gambling den was intended to provide funds to pay a troupe of actors to attend the pagoda’s inauguration ceremony, which was due to begin the evening of March 23 and continue for four days, Kong Chan said.

An Ann said he wanted actors to entertain people attending the pagoda’s inauguration, but had no way of coming up with the money.

“People wanted to see a theater performance but we don’t have a source of income,” he said, adding that he wanted to make sure people had fun.

Chhorn Eam, secretary of state at the Ministry of Cult and Re­ligions, said gambling at a pagoda would be “very wrong.”

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