PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — During Pchum Ben, a Cambodian religious holiday that came to a close last week, Venerable Keo Somaly got up before dawn.
By 5 a.m. each day, the 32-year-old monk was dressed in his saffron robe and chanting prayers. Not long after, with the sun still hanging low in the sky, he was ready to talk politics.
Somaly is part of a growing but difficult to quantify network of monks who are publicly showing their discontent with the results of July’s national elections, which many Cambodians see as deeply flawed, as voiced during an opposition party congress attended by thousands here this weekend.
As someone who receives alms and donations, Somaly sees this dissent as his duty, even if the top-ranking monks see it the other way around.