Venerable Samdech Preah Akka Moha Sanghareacheatepdei Tep Vong, Samdech Preah Moha Sanghareach of the Mahanikaya Order of the Kingdom of Cambodia
Venerable Samdech Preah Moha Sometheatepdei Noun Nget, the Head of the Buddhist Monks of the Kingdom of Cambodia,
Venerable Monks and Clergymen,
Excellencies, Ouknha, Lok Chum Teav, Ladies and Gentlemen and Distinguished National and International Guests!
Today, it is my great honor and pleasure to attend the Promulgation Meeting on “Mainstreaming the Concept of Religious Ethics for Harmonization in Cambodia”, which is an important occasion for Offering Prayers and religious activities for children.
Overall, the theme on mainstreaming the concept of religious ethics through moral, character and virtue education from childhood to adult is necessary, and parallel to the world’s evolving situation and government policy in adherence to human rights and freedom of people especially children to further strengthen harmonization in Cambodia. It is clear that religion significantly contributes to development and peace keeping in society as it teaches people to understand loyalty, sincerity, goodness and sin as well as guides people to end suffering, which is to abstain from wrongdoing, hatred, anger and greed in pursuit of enlightenment. More importantly, religion is a foundation of culture of peace as it leads the followers to happiness, and political issues of religious harmonization is even more crucial, not only for small countries but also for advanced economies.
Every Religion’s Major Contribution for Education of Men
At this point, I am so pleased to be able to meet with every religion in the Kingdom of Cambodia. It is true that in Cambodia, the Constitution has made Buddhism a state religion. However, the Royal Government carries out no action that causes damages on other religions. What is important here is the fact that every religion contributes to the education of men to perform good deed. While that is being done, it facilitates the Royal Government’s state management as every religion contributes to educating men to do good things, there will be less bad ones. It is in this meaning that the state benefits from religion present in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
In this context, we have to continue strengthening harmonization amongst followers of allreligions to fight against discrimination and segregation among people from different religions. This is aimed to transform potential of all religions into a catalyst for socio-economic development, maintaining of peace and solidarity, conservation of national tradition, and promotion of moral value while Cambodia is celebrating the result of religious harmonization as Cambodia has refrained from religious violence, which is really great benefit and opportunity for Cambodia.
We are all well aware of Cambodia in the past 30 years during Pol Pot regime when religious belief, tradition, custom, culture and civilization of Cambodia were seriously damaged in only 3 years, 8 months and 20 days. These include pagodas, monasteries, hermitages, churches of all religions was instead transformed into warehouses, kitchens, animal farms and even detention centers. This is a clear proof that the loss of religion is indeed the loss of people’s morality, which does more harm than good to society. Bearing in mind the hatred of inhumane and non-religious atrocities, Cambodians nationwide stand up to struggle and sacrifice everything under the right guidance of Cambodian People’s Party for the cause of liberation of the nation and people, especially Buddhism and other religions from the atrocious regime and finally gained a triumphant victory on January 7, 1979. According to this historic success, freedom, religious belief, tradition, custom, culture, civilization and all religions in Cambodia have been revived gradually, and so do the culturaland religious programs.
The political principle of equality, equal rights and the same obligations to which Cambodia has been adhering from the past until now has made Cambodia’s society cohesive albeit with many nationalities and religions. This is the pride not only for Cambodia but also for countries in the region and the world regarding the success of this religious harmonization. Even so, strengthening religious harmonization is a crucial task that the government should not overlook and needs to step up its efforts in all circumstances to have all nationalities and religious followers in Cambodia undertake the same obligations, specifically solidarity, patriotism and the respect for one constitution, king and government in line with the motto Nation, Religion, King.
Overall, our endeavors over the last 3 decades, especially the successful implementation of Win-Win Strategy, have enabled us to overcome countless difficulties and obstacles, including national reconciliation, democracy, rule of law, the respect for human rights and dignity for the cause of peace keeping and socio-economic development, moving Cambodia towards sustainable development and prosperity.
I strongly believe that through this promulgation meeting on “Mainstreaming the Concept of Religious Ethics for Harmonization in Cambodia”, the leaders and followers of Islam, Christian, and other religions will closely cooperate with among yourselves in order to strengthen religious ethics for the harmonization in Cambodia, reflecting the spirit of high responsibilities, collective efforts, and the shared commitments in promoting human resource development, especially among youths and children, who are the bamboo shoot for the nation in the future. In this sense, we have to work together to prevent children and women from the exploitation and violence, eventually contributing to the development, harmony, and prosperity for ourselves. In this context, based on the great achievements that we have made so far, I wish to lay out a number of recommendations as follows:
First, further providing training on the spirit of respecting morality, politeness, characteristics, and virtue in the society, especially among youths and children, through various programs, such as Buddhism attached to society program, training on the concept of Buddhism in educational institutions and pagodas in order to get people understanding of the tremenous value of Khmer culture, tradition and custom, which are the national identities that we have to to preserve and develop, promote national culture, while mitigate negative influence of foreign culture.
Second, continuing to organizing the training course on the Code of Conduct for Cambodian Buddhist Clergies, both male and female in order to upgrade their knowledge, capacity, and cultural and traditional practices in the sense of contributing to the public dissemination on Morality, Courtesy, Characteristic, and Virtue for encouraging children, youths and Buddhist followers to do something good.
Third, Ministry of Cults and Religion and all religion leaders must closely collaborate and cooperate as one community to strengthen the culture of religious harmonization in Cambodia throughout the collaboration in theoretical dissemination of its religions to their followers in order to take part in the national development, strengthening religion-to-religion harmonization, and against with the discrimination in segregating people by their religious practices.
Wise Men’s Knowledge Required in Every Religion
Please allow me to add a little more on that. I already mentioned a bit about training of wise men for Buddhist tradition but we also must not forget that other religion like Islam, Christianity and others also need to have rules and regulations, which requires knowledge and capacity of those who will lead (their religious) rites and ceremony. Though we have trained so many wise men in the Buddhist traditional practice, quality is still a problem and we need to broaden our understanding on that matter. We need to seek for quality of wise men in every religion – Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, and others.
Different Race and Religion – Not Obstacle to National Development
One other point, it is important to see that Cambodia is a country considered to be a model among many where every religion coexists free of conflict and there has not been problems that are difficult to resolve. Religious discrimination does not happen in our country. We must know that at this point the difference between races and religions is just the way one practices them. A common point that we share is that we need national independence and sovereignty, and peace to allow for socio-economic development. We may have different food preferences as some would eat this and not that but we have only one objective together – to live.
Talking about this, we must not see the difference among religion – for instance, here we have Christianity, which also comprises of Protestant and Catholics – as obstacles to cooperation for development of our country. This is Cambodia’s good point on religion. Please allow me to appeal to people everywhere to see that no matter what religion they believe in, they should cooperate and live together in harmony, and evade from extreme (religious) actions that we have seen happening in some parts of the world.
The sort of things in place like Middle East will not take place in the Kingdom of Cambodia since we are strengthening our national and religious harmony. I have a strong hope that Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and others will continue to educate parishioners to perform good merit and avoid sinful actions for the sake of a unity to build our future.
Fourth, continuing to cooperate with organizations and leaders of religious associations that attach to religious practice as their characteristic through more often organizing the training, meeting, seminar, religious leaders’ dialogue and other religious ceremonies in order to prevent from taking religion for granted and for the sake of business and causing the religious crisis, as well as it will take part in enhancing the religion harmonization even more comprehensive.
Exchange of Religious Organizations
The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Cult must follow closely and conduct thorough discussion with religious leaders, for which meetings could be organized for that matter. It is true that each religion has a temple or mosque of its own to go to … however the Ministry of Religious Affairs’ offices at the national and sub-national levels should pay attention to organizing meeting of religious organizations to exchange experiences. We may have different sermons but we should do it for national defense and development.
Fifth, even though the Buddhism is considered as the country’s religion, the Ministry has always paid attention to the Paganism through the facilitation and collaboration with all sorts of religions that have been in the Kingdom of Cambodia in order to live amicably together in the sense of pursuing greater social development in a religion-to-religion harmonization. At the same time, we have to adhere to the peace-loving tradition, to have a kind heart for understanding each other and stay together, to respect one another with the spirit of benevolence, compassion and forgiveness between religious community and others in both national and international.
Sixth, encouraging and supporting to regularly organizing religious ethics for harmonization and religious activities for children to find good ways and strategies and formulating action plans for all religions that are present and active in Cambodia, aimed at contributing to protecting children and further achieving more development.
No Religion Advises Theft/Robbery
In addition to the six recommendations, since there have been robberies in recent weeks, please allow me to take this chance to deliver a statement to competent authority of all levels and people in the whole country on two things. Firstly, there has been increase of armed robbery in the last weeks. We have said already that no religion counsels men to carry out sinful act such as robbery. So far, authority has made utmost efforts but I just need to issue more measures, which include discussion with those responsible in security matter – Interior, military police, and national police, while advising everyone to be vigilant of and to quell the armed robbery criminals. They are no religious people. No religion teaches them to carry our sinfully robbery acts. Aside from national authority, the armed forces and competent authority at sub-national levels must exercise vigilance and conduct operation to prevent and suppress armed robbery and criminals to create an environment not only of peace for the whole country but also peaceful mind, free from scoundrel acts of robbers.
Together Quell Scoundrel Acts of Robbery
According to report, two armed robbers killed on exchange fire with the military police were prisoners released recently. I am asking Minister of Justice to inspect closely before a release of those who are in jail because of robbery, drugs, etc. can carry out. They got out of prison and they continue to do similar things. According to reports from the military police and national police, they are no new people but those released from prison. They are out at large and carry out robbery and drugs again. Please review it seriously before requesting release to me. I would seek your description next time of everyone requested for release. I would judge too who should and should not be free. I am calling on all authorities to increase vigilance and suppress scoundrel acts of robbery.
Yesterday I issued more orders and we must take actions altogether – the armed forces and people who would share information – to break in the nest of armed robbery scoundrels. While Europe and America encountered with terrorist acts, Cambodia has come to this state of robbery things. Were they thinking that we are busy with keeping an eye of safety from terrorism and they could have a chance to carry out such crimes? I am asking national and sub-national forces to carry out synchronous actions together with collaboration of our people.
Beware of Food Safety
Secondly, there also rises of food poisoning or food safety. The incident took place in Kratie’s Snuol district from feasting dog meat took life of many. These incidents are avoidable but we did not. May our people exercise self-precaution as far as food intake is concerned. CamControl conducts regular checking on foodstuff sold in the markets for expiry dates. However, consuming food at home … people will have to make their own decision to protect their life. I am calling people to take care of their own safety. We are eating because we need to survive. If we eat to die, why do we eat? We must be sure as from where is the food. As for rice wine distilled in the country, sometimes because of eagerness to earn more, they even use poisonous substance to increase strength and amount of distilled wine. That is the cause of disaster.
I am calling on our people to take self-precautionary measure. Authority could do to a certain level but those who will eat and drink are people themselves. Authority must take responsibility on food safety but every individual must also know what responsibility one has and cannot just blame on the Royal Government. I am stressing again that, firstly, we are carrying out synchronous actions to quell armed robbery and drugs together, and, secondly, may our people pay attention to their own food safety.
Once again, I would like to wish the Promulgation Meeting on “Mainstreaming the Concept of Religious Ethics for Harmonization in Cambodia”, which is the important occasion for Offering Prayers and religious activities for children the smooth process and the fruitful results for the sake of all religious communities and the whole society.
Finally, I would like to wish Samdech Venerable Monks, all Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Lok Ouknha, Ladies and Gentlemen, who are the leaders and followers of Christian, Islam, and other religions, as well as national and international guests, the Happiness, Prosperity, Healthiness, and Success.