The Ministry of Cults and Religion is pondering filing a lese majeste complaint against activist monk But Buntenh over the monk’s recent remarks that Cambodians, including King Norodom Sihamoni, drink water from Tonle Sap contaminated with wastes from Vietnamese settlers in the lake, according to The Phnom Penh Post Online on Monday.
The ministry’s spokesperson, Seng Somony, said he believed the case would be discussed in the annual meeting today (Monday) along with other wrongdoings the monk had committed . He said that the response could include legal action.
In an interview with Radio Free Asia published Tuesday night, Buntenh said that Prime Minister Hun Sen had granted Vietnamese settlers the right to live on the Tonle Sap river in exchange for Vietnam’s help in driving the Khmer Rouge out of Phnom Penh in 1979 and that they, in turn, had contaminated the water Cambodians drink with waste from their floating settlement.
The lese majeste law is one of a set of controversial laws and constitutional amendmentsw quietly signed by the Senate president Sa Chhum in place of the king last week and becoming effective immediately despite the Justice Ministry’s previous claim that there would be a waiting period.
The lese majeste clause added to the Criminal Code defines an insult as any world, gesture, writing, picture or other media which affects the dignity of the individual and specifically only applies to the King himself as opposed to the entire royal family.
Institutions and media outlets are accounatable under the law with different punishments, including fines of 10 million riel to 50 million riel, the confiscation of property and the possibility of shutting down the organization entirely.