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