My respectful salutation to Venerable Samdech Preah Pothivaing and all venerable monks,
Your Excellency ambassadors and all embassy representatives in the Kingdom of Cambodia,
Your Excellencies, Madams, national and international distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Today I am extremely pleased to join Samdech Preah Pothivaing and all Venerable monks, Your Excellencies, Madams, ladies and gentlemen and all our fellow countrymen and women in this occasion of the reopening of Buddhist school year of 2002-2003.In this precious occasion, I would like to express my very sincere congratulations and complements for Venerable Samdech Preah Pothivaing NUON NGET, Chief of countrywide Buddhist studies, the leadership, civil servants and staff of the Ministry of Cult and Religious Affairs as well as professors, teachers, priests and clergymen and laymen, who have worked hard to manage, to teach student monks, who are the direct support of Buddhism, to have better virtues as being deserved getting respects from general Buddhist followers, and to have better knowledge and capacity in helping with social moral education contributing to the building of our country toward development and lasting peace.
Venerable Samdech Preah Pothivaing and all Venerable monks, Your Excellencies, Madams, ladies and gentlemen and all our fellow countrymen and women still remember well that lives under the prison without wall of the genocidal Democratic of Kampuchea regime for 3 years, 8 months and 20 days, all Cambodians of all statuses lost all their freedom including religious beliefs. As an old saying states that “The religion falls, the nation melts” where Cambodian society under the Democratic of Kumpuchea regime lost all its essences. People all over the country were living their miserable lives under barbarous treatment and killings beyond description. Social morale was deteriorating beyond one’s imagination.
After the liberation day of January 07, 1979, Cambodian people were given back all of their freedoms. Though we were all then in poor health, skinny and affected by all kinds of diseases, with new hopes, we work together to restore and rebuild our country. On the our destroyed nation, we have worked our best mentally and physically to mobilize very little left resources to rebuild our national economy and restore our national culture that had almost been completely ruined. For Buddhism, up to now, there are many achievements built from time to time including: temples, residences, schools, wells and ponds in pagoda’s compounds and these are basic infrastructure to restore Buddhism after the complete destruction committed by the Pol Pot regime. These achievements really cannot be separated from efforts and active participations from monks, Buddhist followers and all levels of local authorities as well as teachers, students and all our generous compatriots in and outside the country. But we should also point out that these achievements are an important part of the efforts to implement the Royal Government development policies that highly focus on the expansion of the role of religion in the society especially Buddhism in order to achieve the necessary balance between the evolution of materials and mentality to ensure the lasting and continuous development and pleasantness in all societies.
In this sense, Buddhism and Buddhist temples are not only the symbol of the essence of our nation but as big barns that store good seeds for providing intelligence, ideals and social morale that are important mental basis for rebuilding the country in all areas. Equal and lasting socio-economic development can be carried out and society can exist with pleasantness only with the development of morale and conduct education. Indeed Buddhism is an important basis for moral and conduct education of our society since the old days.
Histories and experiences of some countries showed that a society would face enormous disaster if morale and conduct in that society deteriorate. Therefore, the improvement of and efforts for morale and conduct education in a society is the very important key to ensure the lasting development. For this reason, the Royal Government considers education through Buddhist teachings as the important source for educating and spreading of seeds of social morale and conduct education.
Buddhist teaching is a close partner of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in developing human resources in Cambodia since a great number of our youth population have devoted themselves to become Buddhist monks and they have been got their education from pagodas and from the religion just like laymen. In addition, pagodas are important accommodations for a great number of students who are poor, have no homes and no resources. As they live and study in pagodas, they will gain a great deal of knowledge from monks and from their lives in pagodas.
In the past, most of our people who became educated, scholars, poets or civil servants all got their education from Buddhist teaching as there were not many schools during that time. Even today, some of our people who have knowledge, morale and good conduct also have been educated by Buddhist teaching. Personally, I used to be involved closely with pagodas and Buddhism. The life of pagoda boy that made me work hard, love justice and have sense of responsibility. Tens of thousands of Khmer intellectuals from farmer or poor families have been educated in pagodas. So we always thank pagodas and Buddhism for liberating us from ignorance and illiteracy and helping us in sharpening knowledge, improving social morale, sense of nationalism and love of social justice. It was not a coincidence that the Kingdom of Cambodia decided to have “Nation-Religion-King” as its motto but because these are the basis and factor that ensure the continuity of Cambodian society.
Reports of Venerable Samdech Preah Pothivaing indicates that now Buddhist education is expanded to higher education. So I believe that some of the student monks who left this Buddhist university would remain in their monk-hood while some would become laymen, to be citizens with high knowledge, morale and conducts that are of rare resources contributing to the social development like those educated at schools.
With this vision that the Royal Government has always paid high attention to Buddhist education. For me, in the school year of 2001-2002, I personally donated to Venerable Samdech Preah Pothivaing the amount of 3,000,000 riels (three million riels) each month in supporting Buddhist education. I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to Excellencies, Neak Oknhas, Madams as well as national and international associations and organizations who respect Buddhism, please continue to support Buddhist education to expand Buddhist powers which play a critical role for prosperity and pleasantness in the Kingdom. Personally, I still continue to support Buddhist education just like I have done up to now.I am very pleased to see so many student monks here. I wish them affluent progress in their studies.
Finally, may I wish the supreme patriarch of the two sects, Samdech Preah Pothivaing, all venerable monks, Your Excellencies, Lok Oknhas, Madams, Ladies and Gentlemen the five Buddha blessings: longevity, beauty, health, strength and prosperity.