Monks banned from alms collecting in crowded sites

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A monk collects alms on the street near Teuk Thla market in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district on Monday. Hong Menea

The Supreme Sangha Council has banned Buddhist monks from collecting alms or money in crowded public places and buildings such as markets and warned that any monks who defy the ban will risk being defrocked.

Ministry of Cults and Religions spokesman Seng Somony told The Post on November 15 that the ministry does not have the authority to place a ban on the alms collecting. Rather it is the Supreme Sangha Council that bans such activities based on religious strictures against monks spending time in inappropriate places.

“In general, the ministry doesn’t issue such bans, but going to such places is banned already as stated in Buddhist discipline ...

“The Supreme Sangha Council has the rights to restrict monks from certain activities and to force them to leave the monkhood if they don’t comply. Their obedience or disobedience will determine whether that particular person is a real monk or not,” he said.

He said the council has the duty to inspect and evaluate the practicing of the discipline with cooperation from relevant authorities.

Venerable Khy Sovanratana, deputy head of the Supreme Sangha Council, told The Post on November 15 that the council issued a directive to add to the discipline which is in effect starting November 15.

He said real monks must not collect alms in crowded public places such as at bus stops or markets, among others.

The directive is also aimed at preventing wicked people who masquerade as monks from fooling the public in order to collect money from people, he said.

“In the discipline, monks are banned from going to crowded places with many people and other places that are not appropriate,” he said, adding that any monks who violate this ban will be defrocked.

Hout Vanthy, head of the O’russey market in Phnom Penh, said the management committee would follow the directive and ban monks from entering for the purpose of collecting alms.

“But if the monks come to the market for other purposes, he said, such as buying books or other products, that won’t be a problem,” he said.