A Trip of Two Destinations
I am so happy today to be able to join with Samdech Chief Monk and all of you, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, our compatriots, Buddhist monastery parishioners for the ceremony to inaugurate the Buddhist temple in the pagoda of Moeung Ja Likhetaram, in the village of Moeung Ja, Jiang Torng commune, Tramkak district, Takeo province. It is indeed a great honor for me to have been blessed by chief monk inspector and the committee of the monastery with an honor to preside over the inauguration of the temple.
I am so happy to be able to be with our people here again in this joyful Buddhist ceremony. It is an appropriate time for me to travel 77 Kilometers here from Phnom Penh and I still have another 180 Kilometers more to travel ahead. It is very fortunate that we are starting our meeting quite early in the morning and will not take much of your time. I will travel to another destination, during which I am not sure where we would have our lunch – at the designated place or along the road. However, the main event here today is to put into official use the Buddhist temple and again I thank our Buddhist monks and people for honoring me with this inauguration procedure.
Religions Uprooted under Genocide
I would like to take this opportune moment to express on behalf of the Royal Government and my own behalf my sincere appreciation for the efforts made by chief monk inspector, committee of the monastery, and parishioners in rebuilding this pagoda from damages caused by regime of Pol Pot’s genocide. According to the report of Takeo governor Lay Vannak, first built in 1770, the pagoda is now 246 years old. Due to war and the genocide, Buddhism, Islamism, and Christianity suffered heavy destruction. Since 1979, after the regime of Pol Pot fell down, with correct policy of the Cambodian People’s Party and the National United Front for Salvation of Kampuchea, Buddhism and other religions have revived and progressed.
It is true that pattern of progress of religions could not be separated from that of the whole society. Buddhism and other religions are parts of the journey of our nation. After the liberation from the regime of Pol Pot, Cambodia still had to pass through a stage of civil war for a certain period. We had to make huge efforts to stand up again and rebuild the country to today’s progress. Some of you here, looking back a bit, who are no in your 65s, 70s and 80s, were then in your 30s or so at the time of the liberation. We could think back a bit what had happened after the liberation in 1979 and now. Though age dictates, we would remember still the time when we had to pass through and how we survive the killing by Pol Pot cliques.
With progress made in every household, as a Buddhist nation, Cambodia has gone on direction in which people are contributing to build up pagoda and restore ragged monasteries destroyed under the regime of Pol Pot. The regime for instance converted the monastery into a hospital and local medicine production shop. Some monasteries in the country became places where they kept and executed prisoners. It was a tragedy. Pol Pot destroyed the country to its root – not only materials but also life of millions of people.
National Progress Ends War, Win-Win Policy Achieves Peace
We try to stand up from ashes at the time that the country was under embargo from a number of countries, while blaming us for human rights and democracy records, they ignored what Pol Pot did to the country. They punished us instead. After liberating the country from Pol Pot, some did not make know their remorse and/or how wrong they were when they removed Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk from power. In fact, they continue to support the regime of Pol Pot and punish the people of Cambodia. It was unity that with our two hands, we have been able to rebuild our country.
Governor of Takeo, Lay Vannak, just reported about progress made in the province. It is one aspect among many of progress achieved in the country after we ended war and genocide, and achieve peace thanks to win-win policy. Our country currently is no longer in a situation of 1979. Take for instance this monastery in 1983, what did we have? Elderly people living here may have remembered. There would be this many monks and people’s living condition was also meager. People would not be able to contribute to rebuilding infrastructure of the pagoda to a respectable state. Now we have achieved this thanks to the efforts of our people and correct leadership of the ruling Party – Cambodian People’s Party.
Peace Brings Investments
I started my journey here at six in the morning and traveled by the Phnom Penh International Airport to get to the National Road 3. I saw many trucks loaded with workers to work. Should the country have no peace, no country would have made any progress and where would the workers be? No investors would come in. It is true that some of you have someone in the families to go work in factory or enterprises. Without progress made, there would not be new jobs for our people. It was because of our joint efforts, peace and stability that investors come.
Last week I was in Malaysia working with leaders from other countries, investors, economists on discussions about development in ASEAN countries. They have noted progress achieved in Cambodia. Organizer of the World Economic Forum on ASEAN posed a question to me on how Cambodia managed to achieve 7.7% growth in a period of 20 years consecutively. They wished to understand the progress we made. In some countries, economic progress has up and down. We did too. However, on an average rate, in a period of 20 years, we still have 7.7% growth rate. It is a difficult target to maintain.
This fact has shown clearly that peace that we hardly won has a value that is precious for the people’s living condition, because we are able to achieve development in every front. Our farmers also benefit largely from it. I understand though that they suffered from subjective price factor. I may have their attention that it is not a case of Cambodia suffering it alone. Many countries in the world had their parts in it too. Governor had his report about number of roads, schools, and water canals built. As a comparison, considering what we had when we started, and what we have achieved now, there is a vast difference.
Secular and Buddhist Worlds Exist Together
Talking about this monastery, I am so happy to see that in adjacent to it is a school. In the past, we have not many schools that were outside of the pagoda compounds. That had created some misunderstandings among foreigners. During my visit in 1980s to foreign countries, there was a general understanding that young boy in Cambodia had to be monks. I explained to them that in older days, to get their boys educated, people had to either send their boys into monkhood or live and serve Buddhist monks in exchange for education.
Now that secular world and Buddhist world make progress altogether, there are more schools built on locations not within the monastery compound anymore. I sure hope that being adjacent to the pagoda, schooling activities would not disturb the serenity of the Buddhist world. There have been problem concerning land separation between schools and monasteries. I am calling for the fact that people do not infringe upon each other – schools and monasteries. Some people claimed land from monasteries to build homes. While in deep disagreement, they asked for Prime Minister’s intervention. I would send in the Ministry of Cult and Religious Affairs to intervene. I hope we all agree that we have property of the monastery to take care of […]
Buddhist Monks to Educate People to Stay Away from Drug
I am calling for help from Samdech Chief Monk on issue of drug, which is rampant in the country. Many foreign countries have complained of this problem. We have now problems of drug, lottery number, cock fight, etc. When they lost their deals, some may resort to thefts and robberies. We must stand united on this issue. Everyone must act on individual basis. If everyone performs, we may not need police for crimes, except to take care of traffic.
There have been wrongdoings also in the sphere of Buddhist monks. Some monks misbehaved and only that monk should be brought for punishment and not the whole pagoda. We have seen that Buddhist leaders have always taken appropriate actions against misconducts of Buddhist monks. They would not let the individual monk misbehave and take no notice of Buddhist disciplines. I also believe that in every political and/or humanitarian organization, a person in it should be responsible for his/her own action […]
Some people have committed mistakes and have taken organizations or group of people to shield him-herself. Some organizations have defended him/her. I am calling for a clear thought. Take for instance during the Khmer New Year this year, (a Buddhist monk) sang karaoke. It was speechless. There was nothing to say. I am sure the Buddhist Chief Monk also had nothing to say. However, I appreciate that the individual monk did not protest taking Buddhism and/or Buddhist Monks Directors as shields.
End Ramadan with Islam, Have a Gathering with Christianity
Today is the first day of Ramadan or fast day of Islam. Though we are in the Buddhist monastery, please allow me to send a message on behalf of the Royal Government and my own to Muslims in the whole Kingdom of Cambodia and others to be blessed by Allah with protection and benefit. On 14 June, besides my engagement with Buddhist programs, I will join Cambodian Muslims to celebrate a ceremony to end Ramadan or break the fast. I will then follow to joining a get together with people who follow Christianity. I am a Buddhist, but we have this harmonization of religious policy and there is no such thing as discrimination against religions. I hope Buddhist followers understand this and will not criticize me for doing what I have said […]
It has now become a true story. I told you not to get involved. A company has promised people 10% interest every month to invest in their project. Nine families of handicap soldiers in Ta Ken Koh Sla faced with problems of losing their homes. To get an easy profit, they borrow from one moneylender at 7% interest rate per month to invest in the project, which doing so would leave them 3% every month. Now they brought this issue into my Facebook and asked for help. I could not. If building a temple here and the chief monk owed money, I could raise money to help pay it [..]
Thanks for People’s Supports
I thank HE Chan Sarun and Lok Chumteav for paying the debt of the Buddhist head monk here but I urge carefulness as it would be risky be-known to thieves or robbers. I thank people for voting the Cambodian People’s Party and my leadership. I hope to enjoy further support. We have shared hardship and happiness together for 37 years now and no one helps you build temples, schools, water canals, wells, and reservoirs. Only some scolded us … I am so happy to see that while there is sufficient rain, people started working and I see green crops growing all the way here. Look, in France, they have severe flooding from Seine because of heavy rain. It is unprecedented in 30 years.
We have had not enough rain but we also have to be careful that it may come in abundance once. I came here wearing white shirt today as a wise man. I posed a selfied photo and there are over 20,000 likes. I wrote in my Facebook informing people that I am coming to inaugurate a Buddhist temple in Moueng Ja village, Jiang Torng commune, Tramkak district, Takeo province. I also advised that secular and Buddhist worlds make progress together and complement each other. I also share people the merit from this Buddhist activity […]./.