During the inauguration of the above temple, Samdech Hun Sen made the following selected ad-lib address on the spirit of resource sharing in Buddhism, the brief history of the Khemavoan pagoda, and the registration for the 2003 election.
… Please allow me to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to the venerable head monk and monks of all levels in the Khemavoan Pagoda alias the Boeungsnay pagoda as well as all of its parishioners for the honor they reserved for me to preside over the inauguration of their temple today. It impressed me most because the pagoda is in the native province of mine. I learned that the event has gone on for a few days already during which our Buddhist followers have divided into sections according to the number of directions and celebrated their religious procedures according to the Buddhist teachings. I am grateful and highly appreciate the efforts made by all generous fellow countrymen inside and outside the country in transforming this pagoda into a place of veneration.
… My trip here today would allow me to see some of my relatives and friends as well as brothers or sisters by chance, all of who had provided me care in the 1970s – at which time I was about twenty years old. They may be our people in Boeung Pruol, Boeung Russei and there may be some others. I am very grateful to them. I am now 50 already. But I am no different to myself before except that one of my eyes is lost in the war because of the artillery shell fired (by the Khmer Republic Soldier) from the city of Kompong Cham. I was wounded in the eyes for the sake of our motherland.
… On the wall around the temple I have seen many names written showing that there have been many contribution made into the construction of the pagoda and this is what I called the spirit of resource sharing of our people. Because of this spirit throughout the Kingdom of Cambodia, we have more than 4,000 Buddhist pagodas and a good number of centers of Buddhist study and meditation. This development also indicates that our people have a strong belief in Buddhism. The Pol Pot genocidal regime destroyed Buddhism as well as other religions in Cambodia. The Buddhist monks were either killed or disrobed for hard labor. As a result our elderly people could not practice the Buddhist teachings. But what they had done to Buddhism and other religions had only destroyed its physical form but their beliefs have instilled deep in the minds of our people. They might take away physically the pagodas and the monks, but what stayed inside our people’s mind on Buddhism could not be destroyed.
… It is because of such a strong belief, after being liberated (from the non-religion Democratic Khmer) on January-7, 1979, our people were returned with their rights and freedom for religions and they therefore gathered their resources and built Buddhist temples for their religious practices up to the present. The significance that stems from belief is very important not only in the religious sense but also in economics as well as in politics. Without belief, no one could be motivated for any purpose at all. Take for instance because of belief that our Buddhist followers have they could build more than four thousand pagodas.
… Maybe I should recall some important points about the history of the pagoda and to Samdech Udom Munni Men Tuon, who already passed away on September 5, 2002, at about 5:00 at dawn. He was the provincial head monk in 1964. Because his pagoda was threatened by the land erosion along the Mekong River, the then Governor of Kom Pong Cham Province Y Tuy had requested the Royal Government headed by HM the King, who provided ten hectares in the forest area for the construction of the pagoda in 1964. In between 1964 and 1974, and especially between 1970 and 1974, a period of war, Samdech Udom Munni Men Tuon had made efforts to realize various achievements in the pagoda. But like achievements in other pagodas throughout Cambodia, they were destroyed under the Khmer Rouge regime. In between 1975 and 1979, Samdech Udom Munni Men Tuon was disrobed by force. After he became monk once again on January 7, 1979, by 1987 he had focused his efforts on the reconstruction of this pagoda, according to HE Governor Chieng Am’s report, with the contribution of HE former Governor Hun Neng. It was very unfortunate that Samdech Udom Munni Men Tuon passed away when the construction of the Buddhist temple had not yet finished. On December 26, 2002, his remains were then transferred here with the participation of Samdech Heng Samrin and Samdech the Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong.
… Some people said that the field of religion in Cambodia has degraded. Taking this remark into consideration, I would say it has made an incomprehensive impression on the development of religion. It is like they took tree for the forest. It is a very dangerous judgment, no matter in what circumstance or level of affections it may be. Some monks may not properly follow the Buddhist instruction and code of conducts. But if we were to put the figure in comparison with those who strictly follow the Buddhist code of conducts and teachings, its percentage is very small. A few monks in comparison to 80,000 or 90,000 of them should not be seen as serious and on top of that the mistakes have been addressed by the venerable in charge of Sangha administration.
… In 2003, we will organize the general election and its registration started since January 15. The National Election Committee (NEC) has already displayed the list of voters registered for the commune election in 2002 for the eligible voters to re-register or to mark that they have their names in the list. Today is January 17 and the registration period is going on till February 15. May I appeal to our people throughout the country that they go and register within the mentioned period so that you could make your own decision in choosing the leadership of the country. We have to follow the process democratically without fail. I also would like to advise our commune councils to do anything they can to facilitate those who need to have an identification card or other forms of documents proven by NEC as eligible for use in voting. Aside from the importance of using one’s own right to vote, we have also noticed various other significances. Our people’s names have mostly been registered for the previous election. We could use the list in upcoming elections. The election cards could be used later in proving the relocation of residences or even in search of work. Take for instance to the very least it could certify that holders of the card are 18 years old and above. That is why I say that this is the suitable time for taking the time to register. We may use the card not only for the 2003 election, but in other elections at any time.
… My concern is on areas affected by consecutive floodings where some people have gone away to find jobs. If they registered already for the election in 2002, that should be all right. If they did not, they should return to their villages to register. I wish that all or most of our people go to register. If all of our people go to register, this will help the work of HE Chhay Than, Minister of Planning, in area of population census. As we approach the election I wish to say that “what is defined to be the success of the election is not so and so party is elected, but the election is being conducted in the free, fair, transparent, and non-violent manner.” I also appeal to all to go to vote without fear and free from pressure from whatever sources. Violence under any forms will be prohibited and those who committed violence would be punished by law. There will not be any special regard given to anyone that causes death and wounds on others.
… May our people go to vote and vote for whoever you think they can represent your interest. As for me I will only respect the decision of our people, I would continue my leadership if the people decided so. Otherwise I also have many jobs to do – I might be a writer, journalist or even a lawyer. As a writer I think my book will sell well as I have a number of secrets from political negotiations – like who said what, and what country took what position. As a lawyer, I would take only the case of the poor free of charge… Well talking about rice cultivation, this year we do not have a bad harvest despite the fact that we had late rain. I was worried about the amount of rice needed for our people’s consumption but we have a good harvest in general. When our people have rice for their consumption, the opposition also has a hard time to blame me. They went everywhere to seek other countries’ cessation of assistance to Cambodia and also prayed that rain does not fall. But finally rain came, which helped not only Hun Sen but our people as a whole. I have declared already my policy that no one people is left to died of hunger without the knowledge of the authority and without being helped. But I would not guarantee the same for those who have rice to eat but go on hunger strikes… but take bread, noodle and/or other refreshments like milk or even syrup…