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Beehive Radio Owner Dons Monk Robes

Mam Sonando, the 69-year-old owner of an independent radio station in Phnom Penh, took up his monk’s robes on Monday to lead a 30-day peace march from Phnom Penh to areas near the disputed border.

Mam Sonando, along with 10 Buddhist monks and 10 nuns, began walking from his Beehive Radio studio in Phnom Penh, with plans to continue through the provinces of Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, and Oddar Meanchey, a journey of nearly 600 kilometers.

Mam Sonando, who was jailed in 2006 under anti-defamation laws, told VOA Khmer he hoped to build a haven on the border for villagers of Chup Koki, “to avoid border issues with the Thai side,” and to prevent reported killings by Thai border authorities.

Having saved $80,000 from overseas and local donations, he said, he wanted to build a pagoda, hospital and school for the poor.

Ruling party lawmaker Cheam Yiep said he welcomed the plan, “if this act follows the advice of the Buddha.”

Mam Sonando was a monk at the Bak Nam pagoda, in Svay Rieng province, in 2002.