Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Aussies "Repatriate" Buddhist Scriptures



Aussies "Repatriate" Buddhist Scriptures

Aussies "Repatriate" Buddhist Scriptures

The National Museum in Canberra has returned 74 valuable volumes of Buddhist scriptures

to Cambodia almost two decades after an elderly monk handed them over to Phnom Penh-based

Australian diplomats for safekeeping.

Prime Minister Paul Keating symbolically presented one volume of the Khmer translations

of the Tripataka to Prince Norodom Sihanouk during a lightening visit to Phnom Penh

on Sept. 26.

The odyssey of the Tripataka volumes began in 1974 as Khmer Rouge guerrillas were

pressing in on the capital, explained John Holloway, Australian Ambas-sador to Cambodia's

Supreme National Council.

An elderly monk from a wat in Kien Svay, just east of Phnom Penh, turned up at the

Australian Embassy and told the diplomats: "I'm terrified that if the Khmer

Rouge get these volumes, they'll burn them."

They were sent to the National Museum in Australia for safekeeping when the embassy

closed ahead of the Khmer Rouge's capture of the city on April 17, 1975, Holloway

added.

The Maoist group, during a rule of terror lasting nearly four years, snuffed out

the influence of Buddhism and the monkhood, destroying wats, monasteries and the

treasures within.

After the signing of the Cambodian peace pact a year ago, the National Museum decided

that it was time to return the volumes and contacted Holloway's embassy for help

in tracking down the monk.

They found out that he was one of the 20,000 luckless Cambodians executed by the

Khmer Rouge after passing through the Tuol Sleng torture center.

Holloway said that while Australia was determined to remain a neutral observer of

the peace process, the gesture was "a sign... that we do recognize what happened

in the mid-1970s."

The Tripataka volumes, containing sermons and writings by prominent Buddhists over

the centuries, were translated into Khmer between the 1920s and 1950s.

Though not particularly old, they are significant documents as Cambodia was one of

the few countries to translate the work into the vernacular from Pali.

Their arrival back home comes at a time when Buddhism and the monkhood are enjoying

a resurgence among grassroots Cambodians.

MOST VIEWED

  • Without shoes or a helmet, a young cyclist steals the show

    Pech Theara gripped the curved handlebars of his rusty old bike, planted his bare feet on its pedals and stormed as fast as he could towards the finish line. The odds were against him as the 13-year-old faced off against kids with nicer bikes at

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • PM dispels lockdown rumours, gifts masks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on November 12 denied rumours that he will lock down the country in response to increased Covid-19 fears, referring to them as propaganda aimed at destabilising the country. In a Facebook post, he said some people had spread rumours that the government

  • SilkAir adds flight to Phnom Penh schedule

    Silkair (Singapore) Pte Ltd is increasing its flight frequency between Phnom Penh and Singapore with a third weekly flight on Saturdays, according to Cambodia Airports’ Facebook page. The other flights offered are on Tuesdays and Sundays, with an estimated Phnom Penh arrival time at 5:35pm