… Just now Samdech Preah Podhiveang mentioned to all of the participants about the memories we had in 1979. It was true that on the one hand our people had had no Buddhist monks with whom they could organize religious ceremony. On the other, in some places few monks had had no people with whom they could organize religious ceremony as well. The Buddhist supporters and the Buddhist monks have come together to build up Buddhism. We then had those people who volunteered to become monks to support the existence of the Buddhism. Other people gave their supports by building pagodas and provided assistance to those needs in the field of religion.
… It was then quite difficult, and I wish to take this opportunity to clarify one thing to us all. I was the one who tied the knot at that time so it is quite right that I am the one who have to unknot it. In 1979, as Minister of Foreign Affairs I had controlled quite a large area extending from the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the front of the Royal Palace. In fact we occupied the building near the Royal Palace, but because there were no people residing in this area (the current Ministry of Cult and Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) we decide to move to the current office while maintaining our control over all other areas. There were burglars almost every night. They either remove either the doors or windows. So to look after the existing buildings I had used my capacity as Foreign Minister to keep control over the places.
… I had my office on the other side of the street (the current Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and we used one of the buildings here as kindergarten and one other as the department of logistics and finance of the then Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Later the building was transformed into the Party’s Central Committee for External Relations, for which I was the President. So in those days I had three offices – at the Council of Ministers, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Party’s Committee for External Relations. The situation was like that. In the whole pagoda of Langka there were only two monks. As of now we have hundreds of them and we have hundreds of thousands throughout the country.
… Yesterday I received HE new Ambassador of Myanmar. Many of our monks go to Yangoon for Buddhist studies. He told me that there is a faculty there that could be called the Cambodian Monk Faculty because of the great number of monks from Cambodia studying there. I responded to him that it is possible to say that in Cambodia there are more pagodas than the military barracks and therefore there are more monks than there are soldiers. Why? In some districts, take for instance a district in the province of Kompot, there are up to 40 pagodas and there are only two military barracks only. I used to recall that soldiers should behave themselves with the monks otherwise they would have a tough time with their umbrellas. In our history, one of our patriotic monks — Acha HemChiev, and colleagues used umbrellas to fight the French (colonialist.)
… I wish to take this opportunity to reiterate that even if the cock does not crow, the sun is rising still. Take for instance Pol Pot destroyed religions, though he could survive for some time, he ended his life in a tragic way. Some people said that Pol Pot killed a massive number of people why then he lived for so long time. Well his day has come and even if he died he is to be tried still.
… We started to have monks since 1979 and this took its course without having to take anybody’s advice that Samdech Chea Sim presided over the inauguration of the Buddhist studies. When I was Minister of Foreign Affairs, there were numerous horse carts coming here to load palm-leaf manuscripts from the other side of the building. Some pagodas in those days, though there were not yet Buddhist monks, they had gathered elderly people to look after the palm-leaf manuscripts. It was a correct decision to let those people take them to their pagodas for use otherwise termites would have eaten them. So progress has been made step by step.
… So I have some thing to reciprocate though part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been given back to the Ministry of Cult and Religion in 1993. So what to do with another building? Let me inform Samdech Preah Podhiveang and all of our monks participating here today as follows. We have discussed with the Municipality of Phnom Penh to allocate land at the size of two hectares for the construction of new buildings for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Also we have allocated US$ 3.9 million for the buildings. The work is in progress and once the new buildings for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are ready, the current buildings and location of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be returned to the Ministry of Cult and Religion Affairs…