Cambodia bans song depicting Buddhist monk falling in love

AP, December 21, 2004

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- A government order banning a pop song about a Buddhist monk falling in love will unlikely affect its sales, a production manager said Tuesday.

Officials recently pulled the plug on radio and television broadcasts of the song, titled "Wrongly Quitting Monkhood for Love,'' saying it tarnishes the reputation of Cambodian Buddhism.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said in a statement last week that the song's content "affects the dignity of other monks who are striving to sacrifice their physical and mental strength to devote themselves to Buddhist teaching.''

The song was released as a video CD, which shows scenes of the monk hugging and kissing the girl while bathing in a pond near a pagoda.

Iep Chimeng, manager of a studio that produced the video CDs, said the ban would have little impact on the sale of the 4,000 copies already out in the market.

He said the aim of the video was not to degrade Buddhism in Cambodia but to educate monks who might not yet have rid themselves of sexual desire.

"He was obsessed with her beauty, and, against advice from older monks, he left the monkhood for her. But when she abandoned him later, he realized that he was wrong and that he's the one who was hurt,'' Iep Chimeng said, adding that the man returns to the monkhood.

Some 90 percent of Cambodia's 13 million people adhere to Buddhism. About 60,000 monks live at more than 4,000 temples across the country. Local newspapers regularly carry stories about monks violating their principles, which bar contact with women.

In November, a 74-year-old abbot was charged with raping a 16-year-old boy at a monastery in southwestern Cambodia.