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Letter: Follow the Buddha

Dear Editor,

Since I have been in Sri Lanka, I started to read the Post. I am very interested

in your article of Dec 24, 1999 - Jan 6, 2000, "Development of Democracy in

Cambodia," especially the section on "Cultural foundations." It is

the best article for Cambodians and their rulers to follow whatever was described

in that article.

The country is quite complicated. Most Cambodian people and government officials

are ex-monks. who were once ordained and known as disciples of the Buddha (the Enlightened

One). Cambodia is known as a Buddhist country, but there were and are many things

being practiced which are against the Buddha's teaching. Why?

I have often been asked, "Why is your Buddhist country in this condition?"

My perfect answers are "Yes" and "No." I think that it is too

much for Cambodian people to try to be the best fighters on the battlefield and do

wrongdoings in our poor homeland.

Cambodia is not poor, but her people are very poor and suffering. Trafficking, prostitution,

rape, kidnap and injustice are being practiced throughout the country. The poor become

poorer and the rich get richer. Our country is usually considered as a weak, unsuitable

and bad country by some foreigners and her people. Even Khmer Buddhist monks are

considered as weak and poorly-educated among the Buddhist monks of the world. How

sad we are!

Our Khmer people are not weak. Surely we are poor, but we are not weak and bad. We

are innocent people. If we were weak, we could not have survived in our homeland

until today, and our country would probably have been left out of the list of Southeast

Asian nations long ago. We have always suffered, day by day, century by century,

because we are much too innocent. Most of the leaders in Cambodia are ex-monks, such

as Prime Minister Hun Sen (in the funeral of his grandmother), opposition leader

Sam Rainsy, Prince Ranariddh, and also His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk. They were

ordained at least for a few days.

I hope and believe that my Buddhist country will become a good democratic state through

Buddhist practices. There are many democratic features in the Buddha's teaching (doctrine

and discipline). Prime Minister Hun Sen used to stay in a temple for a long time

so he could learn from the Wat, monks, and religion. So I hope the rulers will lead

Cambodia to be a good democratic country through Buddhist practices, because they

are very Buddhist - not only Buddhists, but real practitioners of Buddhism. As His

Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk said, "The complicated problems of Cambodia can

easily be resolved by Buddhist ways if we really wanted to do so."

May my country no longer be treated as weak and bad. May Noble Triple Gems bless


Ven Prom Socheath (Sanwara)

Khmer Buddhist monk

Sri Lanka



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