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Last Updated: Monday, 20 December 2004, 16:05 GMT
Cambodia bans lovelorn monk song
By Guy de Launey
BBC, Phnom Penh

Screen grab of the monk's video
The video shows a monk frolicking with his lover in a lotus pond
Cambodia's government has banned a song about a lovelorn monk.

They have asked radio and TV stations to stop playing Leaving The Monkhood For Love because they say it is disrespectful to Buddhists.

Cambodia's motto is: "Nation, Religion, King" and 90% of the population is Buddhist.

But the airplay ban has been met with bemusement by fans of the singer Heng Bunleap, who is one of the rising stars of the Cambodian music scene.

Over the past year Heng has earned a sizeable following by matching a traditional Khmer ballad style to gritty modern-day themes.

But his latest hit is just a bit too gritty for the authorities. The lyrics about a monk who prefers love in the arms of a woman to life at the pagoda probably raised some official eyebrows.

And the video of the shaven-headed hero frolicking with his lover in a lake was a step too far.

The information ministry has requested radio and TV stations to pull the plug on the song - a move that has left Heng's fans baffled.

But his other songs are hardly less biting. They often deal with the widening gap between the urban rich and rural poor in the country.

The Husband's Tears For The Beer Girl is about an amputee whose waitress wife sleeps with a customer for cash.

Other songs, like The Mother of All Sluts, deal with contemporary morals.

Heng's star was already rising. This could be all the impetus he needs to reach the next level.

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