I am surprisingly impressed by the different blessings during the Khmer New Year celebrations during the Year of the Ox, 2553 B.E. It is a very important opportunity for Cambodian people to give good wishes and blessings to each other. Political leaders have also used this day to deliver their blessing to their party members and supporters. The meaning of their blessings carries both good wishes and political messages.
The blessing that impressed me the most was that of Prime Minister Hun Sen, about the Prohm Vihea Thir Boun, or Four Sublime States of the Mind, to the Cambodian people. This blessing is extraordinarily well-known for the good leadership of the Kings, called "Dhamma King" or "Dhammika".
Dhamma Kings have to pursue the virtue of loving-kindness (Metta), compassion (Karuna), sympathetic joy (Mudita) and neutrality (Upeka).
These four teachings are well-known among Cambodians. A good leader has to pursue this teaching, but to understand it clearly in both theory and practice is not well-conceptualised.
Furthermore, the mechanism to bring this teaching to the leaders as well as the general public is important. How can Cambodian political leaders and people pursue this Dhamma teaching? By blessings, individual observation or enlightenment, or strengthening the rule of law to embed it in Cambodian society? It would be a question for all policymakers and political leaders to leave their legacy for this ideal blessing of our current challenging and transitional world.
In the past, our parochial and charismatic leaders or kings might have been important. But now, these charismatic and capable leaders will not be substantial because the belief in democracy and good governance requires the capability of the people in active bottom-line participation and the rule of law, not the rule of any individual leader.
I hope with great optimism that the blessing of Cambodia's prime minister this year will become a reality.
University of Hawaii at Manoa
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