… Today, my wife and I are pleased to join with all of you to put into official use the great residential hall of Buddhist monks and other achievements in the pagoda of Champuh Kaek, in the province of Kandal… In the name of the Royal Government I wish to express my gratitude and high appreciation for achievements in this pagoda thanks to contributions made by its followers from near and far. I feel that I should say a few words in relation to these achievements.
The Governor of Kandal province, HE Chhun Sirun already mentioned in his report about achievements that are taking place in the pagoda. The pagoda has indeed stretched its existence to about 131 years now dated from 1876. The pagoda was in its dilapidated state in the time of war in between 1970-1975 and the time of genocide in between 1975-1979.
Rebirth of the Cambodian people from those cruel periods brought about also the rebirth of Buddhism, which the majority of Cambodians follow. As of now we have a report that about 4000 pagodas have been completed their renovations or constructions. In the whole country we have only 1621 communes. Taking the number of pagoda into account, we see that in average we have between two and three pagodas per commune. This suggests clearly that we have more pagodas than the number of communes. We have yet to count in other meditation centers that are built both officially and unofficially.
In 1997 I came and stayed here overnight for the inauguration of the Buddhist temple in this pagoda, which was scheduled to take place early morning after. The soloist Prach Chhuon made a request in his song for school buildings and I offered to build one in Takeo province in response to the request. The land area of the pagoda was only a size of two hectares and thanks to the wisdom of Samdech Preah Buddhivang the size has been enlarged to over 12 hectares.
If we take a look at this achievement in front of us here as well as throughout the country, the residential hall has in itself adapted to a level of not just a villa but a hotel. I wish on this occasion to express my sincere appreciation for the progress made in this pagoda, which has a total cost of 492,524 US dollars. I heard my wife’s conversation with HE Tia Banh and HE Nhek Bun Chhay that it would have been impossible to raise this amount of money in the secular interest. Well that will completely depend on people’s belief.
I would take this occasion to remind religious persons that no matter what religion they believe in they should see the merit of good deed since each religion never instructs its followers to perform deeds that are resulting in bad karma.
The pagoda was indeed commencing 131 years ago. After the first Head Monk of this pagoda Keo Sam, Samdech Preah Buhhivang Am Lim Heng, who in his 43 years old, would go on with his leadership for further progress. I mention various times about a question that was raised to the leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) of “how long would Buddhism exist?” We always responded that “it will exist until it has no followers.” As long as our people believe in Buddhism, this religion will continue to exist.
Take for instance in the time of the Pol Pot regime, they had been eradicating religions, Buddhism included, and the pagoda of Champuh Kaek was one of their killing sites. Soon after 1979, Buddhism came back to existence and has made great development. No single Buddhist monk or anyone could build such a tremendous achievement if it were not because of people’s belief.
I also took note that the re-construction effort of this pagoda was enabled by a Katina (a Buddhist ritual to collect resources to provide for the Buddhist monks in the time of fast) headed by my wife in 2002, and many charitable and dignitary persons thereafter in 2003, 2004 … 2006 etc.
What impresses me most is the fact that along with the expansion of the land area to over 12 hectares, about 1000 luxury wood trees and countless fruit trees have been planted. I would recall that in between 1995-96 I initiated a “Marriage Park” in a place by the side of Wat Phnom Tumpek in the purpose of mobilizing people who are getting married to plant a tree in it for younger generations. If it was conducted in this manner throughout the country, we would have abundance of trees for our children, grand children and great grandchildren.
A good example could be mentioned is that there are in all 86 Buddhist disciples and 25 orphans living in this pagoda. If 4000 pagodas throughout the country would do the same we would have done great deal for needy people, which is a critical relief for the Royal Government. I would once again express my gratitude to those efforts made by our Buddhist monks in pagodas throughout the country in providing help to needy people in matter of food and place to stay.
Perhaps you all have heard, in the past two days, a demand has been made by a group of ill-intentioned persons to strip off the immunity of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, our Heroic King Father. The Royal Government of Cambodia, the Senate, the National Assembly and various political parties could not stay idle in face of such a provocation and abuse. This is indeed a grave matter of concern. It could be said an insult not only for the Heroic King Father but also our people. We should see through this intention and try by all means to prevent their demand from being realized.
Our Heroic King Father, who led the country under the colonial rule since when he was 19 years old, has gone through uncountable sufferings in his capacity as a King unlike those in other countries. Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk led a crusade to mobilize people’s support to demand independence from France which was later given in November 1953.
I would say that under his rule Cambodia developed to a great extent. Countries around us were engulfed one way or another in war while Cambodia enjoyed peace, though for a brief period of time. Take for instance pagoda took a leading development role and those who resided in the pagodas, I was one of them, also had a chance to further education. The coup of March 18, 1970, brought us all a great loss and pain, as Samdech Preah Norodom Shanouk was abroad. The coup plunged the country into war. They now want to transform victims to be criminals to be convicted. To put blame on Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk is to curse the movement for independence of the country.
Last Sunday I sent minutes of the meeting of the Pol Pot’s Permanent Committee of Democratic Kampuchea dated March 11, 1976. It was a scaring one. Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk at that time requested to resign (from the post of President of Democratic Kampuchea) in two letters which was available in two languages – Khmer and French. One letter is about resignation and the other an appeal to the people. In the minutes, there was this request to wire to his children to return to the country to join the nations’ festivity of New Year and the April-17 anniversary (Khmer Rouge liberated Cambodia from Lon Nol’s Republic) and “clear them out” which in Khmer Rouge literal term is “killing all.”
I just came across the minutes as HE Chea Chanto, the Governor of the National Bank of Cambodia brought it to my attention. Many in the Royal families suffered ill fate and sometimes I learned about sufferings and royal lives under Pol Pot as is narrated by HM the Heroic King Father …
I would in this sense urge an appeal to our people who entirely agree to the motto of Nation, Religion and King – the three souls of our nation to continue to support and advance out nation further. We all should refrain from doing harm to our nation, our religion and our King. Samdech Heroic King Father is now 85 years of age already. Samdech and Samdech Preah Akka Mohesei have been doing a great deal to help relieve difficulties for the needy ones, an effort that was also done no less by His Majesty the King…
We have decided to pick this day for the inauguration is because I do not have time. I set to leave for Kuala Lumpur on August 30. I have an apology to make to the people in the communes of Prek Thmei, Choeu Teal, Kompong Svay in the district of Kien Svay, the communes of Svay Proteal, Troei Sla, Ta Lon, Khporp of Sa Ang district and the communes of Por Baan, Loeuk Dek, Chruoy Takeo, Choeu Khmao, Kompong Kong, Koh Thom and Prek Chrey of Koh Thom district for overlooking their demand for a paved road while keeping abreast with roads 67, 68, 78 and 76 and others in Preah Vihear province.
We have on the other side (of the Bassac River) a paved road 21 and we now have to start on this side. I would suggest a frog-leap strategy in building this road and I would suggest HE Keat Chhon Senior Minsiter for Economy and Finance to get the project ready by inserting it into the main project list for commencement of implementation as soon as the water recedes. I would order to pave a segment that stretches between five communes, communes of Prek Thmei, Shoeu Teal, Kompong Svay of Srok Kien Svay and Svay Pro Teal and Troui Sla of Sa Ang district. We would see further what we can do after this segment is done…