My wife and I, together with officials and Buddhist followers who are present here have a great pleasure to join with all of our Buddhist monks in giving a bath to Samdech Tep Vong, the Great Supreme Patriarch in this moment. On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and all of our Buddhist followers, I wish to express my sincere and deep gratitude to Samdech Tep Vong, the Great Supreme Patriarch, for his devotion in his life for Buddhism. In this token of expression, I would like to also express my sincere gratitude for HM the King Samdech Preah Borom Neat Norodom Sihamony for his appointment by the Royal Decree of Samdech Tep Vong as the Great Supreme Patriarch of Buddhist monks in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Reviewing the history of the past 27 years, we have now reached a time when we have about 4000 Buddhist pagodas through the Kingdom and about 60,000 Buddhist monks – a development that is beyond belief after the country recovered from the devastation under the genocide regime. When I was 27 years, as a leader among many in the former PRK and SOC, I contributed a great deal, together with Samdech Chea Sim and Samdech Heng Samrin, with Samdech Tep Vong, the Great Supreme Patriarch in his central leading role, to the cause of development of Buddhism in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Under the genocide regime, the Buddhist pagodas were destroyed while the Buddhist monks were disrobed and/or killed. There were only a few monks after the regime’s fall. Samdech Tep Vong, the Great Supreme Patriarch, as well as those of the Buddhist monks throughout the country have made every efforts and decision to stay in monk-hood since his young age up to now has been a remarkable devotion. The Polpotists destroyed Buddhism in form, but they never could remove its soul from the people’s hearts and minds. After January 7, under the wise leadership of Samdech the Great Supreme Patriarch, Buddhism in the Kingdom of Cambodia evolved step by step until it has come to the present day’s development.
Buddhism’s development has a close relationship with that of the secular world. Please allow me to say a few words about how the progress is made in Buddhism from scratch, from no monks and from no pagodas. The Buddhist development in the Kingdom of Cambodia could be compared indeed to the strength of belief in Buddhism prevails in the Cambodian society. If it were not of such a strong belief, Buddhism would not overcome such a great trial. Development of Buddhism, in short, reflects development in the secular society. The two is a mutual complement. The fall of Buddhism in the genocide regime witnessed the failure of the then secular world.
As of now we can see and conclude that Buddhism development could not be separated from progress in the secular medium where its basic elements are to improve the economic and social life of the people. I wish to take this opportunity to reaffirm that the rank of the Great Supreme Patriarch does exist in the Cambodian history. It certainly rules out the idea that the promotion of this rank is of ulterior purpose. About 149 years ago, about the year 1857, HM the King Preah Baat Ang Duong appointed Venerable Moeun Tien as Samdech the Great Supreme Patriarch of the Kingdom. The rank existed through the reigns of Preah Baat Ang Duong, Preah Baat Norodom and Preah Baat Sisovat. It came to a break in 1913. About 149 years later Samdech Tep Vong is again taking the continuity of the rank of the Great Supreme Patriarch for the Kingdom of Cambodia to reflect indeed the rapid progress made in Buddhism, which demands a complete structural management consideration.
In addition to appointing this rank, HM the King has also appointed a group of Patriarchs for the Kingdom of Cambodia, where Samdech Sumethea Thibbadei Nuon Nget is the Head, Samdech Preah Dhamma Likhet Luos Lay is the First Deputy Patriarch, Samdech Praeh Purdhivang is the Second Deputy Patriarch and Samdech Preah Voanradh as the Third Deputy Patriarch of the Group. Today the ceremony is to bestow Samdech Tep Vong with the Great Supreme Patriarch and on May 26 we will do it for the four members of the Group of the Head Monks for the Kingdom.
The appointment is indeed the implementation towards strengthening the leadership Buddhist structure, especially in the country where Buddhism is claimed to be the religion of the state. The structure will help us when there would be a gap between the Mohanikay and Dhammayuth – the two Buddhist sects in Cambodia. There needs to be a unity in the leadership of the country’s Buddhist sector. I wish for a better coordination and collaboration so that more progress will be reached in Buddhism as well as in secularism in the Kingdom of Cambodia. What we are fulfilling today is indeed adding further belief to the strength of Buddhism in Cambodia. In the name of the Royal Government of Cambodia and in my name as a boy brought up by Buddhist pagoda, I wish to declare that I have the duty to support the Great Supreme Patriarch in all spheres of activities./.