It is indeed a grateful experience for our Buddhist students to learn from other countries through representatives from Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Indonesia. As I said in my prepared text that religions in Cambodia had died in the genocide regime between 1975 and 1979. Though the root of religion has been a long one in history but in Cambodia they all just revived the same time. If Polpotists were just narrow minded nationalists they would have abolished other religions but not Buddhism. But they abolished all and that is their crime against humanity that they have to be accountable for while undergoing trial in the court.
Their Majesties of Cambodia, prior to the regime of Pol Pot’s genocide, always harmonize between races and religions, which we all have to admit that was a brilliant leadership in the past. According to my experience as a leader of this country in the past nearly thirty years, I see that it is very important to have first of all harmony among races. They all have to live together without discriminating one another. Some ethnicities in our country as we noted they do not have a religion but some kind of beliefs. From there it is indeed the harmonization between religions and cultures and they all are interconnected.
Race is the point of beginning and by religions and cultures follow on as some Cambodians are not Buddhists and some Cambodians even get married with the Muslims. They have to be first Muslims to get married with the latter. What is the main concern here would be the neutrality of the public administration. Whoever is holding a state position – whether it is the village head or Prime Minister, has to be neutral and his/her judgment should not be biased in favor of any culture or religion s/he belongs to, while neglecting other religions or culture.
In Cambodia, from HM the King to other junior leaders, we all are Buddhists but we have been very careful of having biased. Buddhism in Cambodia has two sects – Mahanikaya and Dhammaryuth. Therefore, all religions have to live together and would not be obstacles to the country’s development. Since we do not have religious conflict we must continue to prevent the conflict from happening in the country. Whatever happened in the past has been dealt with by peaceful means. According to real experience, most of the time, some silly things happened because of rhetoric of some political leaders in the world or authors, etc. Take for instance the experience brought in here by the Indonesian participants that issue flared up because of a joker.
I am so shocked to see that one word could turn a billion people as enemy. Take for instance, something happens here and there, and they said it is a terrorist act caused by the Muslims. Why is it so? Terrorists never have a religion. Take for instance what happened in many countries, terrorists killed also Muslims. It is absurd that the press and politicians used this word against the Muslims, though it is indeed their rights to freedom of expression. I seem to agree with the idea that the one that make the most mistakes is CNN and/or BBC which create a lot of problems. I am straightforward on that. The US Government says they cannot do a thing about that because it is their rights in doing so. The French TV5 is also not less provocative than the above two.
There is a matter that I already made my public remark already and I think that it is useful to raise it here for your knowledge and analysis. We all know what happened in the Southern part of Thailand. Then Government installed by the military said that hundreds of Muslims from Cambodia crossed the border to work as militants in the Southern part of Thailand. The Cambodian minister for information made clear many times and also there were some clarifications from Muslims who hold positions in the Royal Government but the reaction seemed to have changed nothing.
I took the matter in my hand. Is it not enough that they had to fight the Muslims in the South? Do they want to fight also with Muslims in Cambodia? Why should they try to make more enemies? Then there was justification by HE Surayudh Chulanant and the matter had calmed down. I think that the Government in countries where there are more than one religion have to be careful with their comments because whatever they say about this affairs will determine the consequential situation – for better or for worse.
To master religion one has to be literate and therefore religion also produces human resources who could be helpful in administration as well. Take for instance our Buddhist monks did their studies also in the secular world – take for instance economics and their knowledge could be of use in the secular affairs as well. We have to see the benefit from having secular knowledge and Buddhism or other religions combined. The state should in fact take benefit from religions especially in terms of human resources development, virtue and morale for social management./.