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Cambodia: Decline of Monk Morality?

Since Buddhism is a state religion guaranteed by the Constitution and the fact that nearly all Cambodians are Buddhists, the recent reported decline of monk morality in the country is a cause of concern.

On several occasions, monks have been found of engaging in violent behavior or misconduct including having sex or watching pornography. There was a case where a provincial chief monk reportedly got drunk and beat a clergymen who didn't file a complaint for security reason since the bully monk is recognized as the king monk in the province. Recently, a monk was caught making a video of naked ladies who went to his monastery for religious watering, a belief that the water provided by the monk will release all bad incidents or bring luck to people. The investigation which led to an arrest was followed by an enormous sharing of that nude video via bluetooth from phone to phone. This apparently raised a question over the emerging development of technology infrastructure in Cambodia where people can widely access porn materials more easily. However, as suggested by Chan Nim, the issue is left to the conscience of the people on the proper use of technologies.

On the other hand, there are many well-behaved monks who understand the role of technology in promoting religious teachings. While it is now common to see many blogs initiated by young people who discuss social, technological or personal issues, there are now Buddhism-themed blogs such as Bodhikaram, Saloeurm, Khmerbuddhism. An extensive teaching of Buddhist philosophy is now accessible online in the form of short commentaries, dictionaries, podcasts, or textbooks in both English and Khmer. Moreover, there are a number of monks who are effectively maximizing the internet in order to reach a wider audience. Venerable Saloeurm Savath, for example, has been rigorously sharing many Buddhist teachings via face-book which acts as a natural linkage with his laypeople who can easily reach him for more explanation on certain Buddhist Principle or issues.

Pagodas and monks are part of Cambodia's cultural and educational heritage. They continue to contribute a lot in society. It is hoped that monk morality can be strengthened to encourage the people to affirm their trust and faith in Buddhism which has hugely contributed to national reconciliation and psychological peace, such as the case of survivors of the Khmer Rouge Regime that kept applying Buddhist teachings to transform their revenge and anger to hope and peace of mind.

Photo from the flickr page of Adam Jones, Ph.D.

5 comments

  • nice article,

    what i expect the see is that the high rank monk (sorry i don’t know what to call in english) but someone that could control of all monks in Cambodia, he should make a statement, this is caused by the chef monk of each pagoda not control what happen in his pagoda.

    maybe a new restriction need to be made to prevent this kind of thing. maybe it’s warning not to take any holly water naked in pagoda etc.

    but i didn’t see that kind of reaction yet, maybe i missed out something…

  • – GOV’T
    the government is holding the ”anti-” internet law conference this week. just after the monk scandal revealed to the public.

    i believe not the story in the news that ”the concerned lady saw her own n-de picture on phone and then called the police.” it’s a cooked fact.

    i believe the police have the knowledge about the scandal long ago. but the intervention was taken in the purpose of benefiting something from the public.

    – MONKS/PAGODA/RESPECT
    cambodians still believe in budha/buddhism.

    i learned about buddhism. the followers respect the month’s yellow dress (what’s in english?) and the saying of buddha. but not the individual who is wearing the dress. taking out the dress, they are normal. even though that person keep living in pagoda.

    – MONKS/POLITICS

    Monks are considered a big force in cambodia society – political force, union-like force, morality force. the demonstration momentum in 1998 was partly engineered by monks – both in political and moral concept.

    downgrading and paralising this force will eventually destroy the opposition current.

    example in burma – monk protest.

    – THE SCANDAL

    the scandal is just one of the many many to come in cambodia. it will be a very normal things. that’s what technology offer to society. it’s like sciences. we can decide to use nuclear energy for peace or for war. but nobody would stop the advancement. just make the use of it.

    – LAW ENFORCEMENT/PREVENTION

    does that scandal can be prevented? i believe not. but can be scaled down. it naturally will happen. but law should be enforced on the right thing. it is like one of the many crimes that is happening in cambodia. raping of their own children, for instance.

    they know about the punishment, but it depends on authority to enforce the punishment. anyhow, the crime happens everyday.

    so, for the scandal, i believe the authority will use it to enforce the cyber-crime law instead of trying to enforce the law that prevent bad monk/bad people from committing the crime itself.

    So, what should we individual do? — i believe nobody is doing anything! hehe.

  • […] defenders like the Venerable Loun Sovath using online tools to advocate for a cause, scandals arose when the behaviors created by the Internet attempted to cult and religion and the  feared Jasmine Revolution started in neighbouring countries.  As of today, Cambodia has a […]

  • […] like the Venerable Loun Sovath using online tools to advocate for a cause, scandals arose when the behaviors created by the Internet attempted to cult and religion and the  feared Jasmine Revolution started in neighbouring countries.  As of today, Cambodia has […]

  • […] like the Venerable Loun Sovath using online tools to advocate for a cause, scandals arose when the behaviors created by the Internet attempted to cult and religion and the  fearedJasmine Revolution started in neighbouring countries.  As of today, Cambodia has a […]

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