Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Buddhist orders offer politicians road to peace



Buddhist orders offer politicians road to peace

Buddhist orders offer politicians road to peace

PATRIARCHS of Cambodia's two rival Buddhist sects, who have squabbled in the past,

met last week in a show of reconciliation. Many hoped that the encounter could serve

as a model for Khmer leaders to end their disputes for the sake of peace.

"[Politicians] should take note of this meeting. This Buddhist meeting is a

good symbol for all leaders and people in all levels to follow," said Samdech

Preah Reap Tep Vong, the head of the Mohanikay sect, said.

Sitting around a flower-strewn sign reading "May Peace Prevail on Earth",

Tep Vong and Samdech Preah Anoch Bou Kri, head of the Thammayut sect, met on March

3 in Phnom Penh's Svay Popei pagoda to pray together for peace.

The Venerable Ing Kieth, who took a weeklong respite from his jobs as Deputy Prime

Minister and Minister of Public Works to join the monkhood, arranged the symbolic

meeting.

"I had invited the two Samdech partriarchs - Mohanika-ay and Thammayut - to

attend [the ceremony]. This is a good sign to show that ... all the monks are as

one," he said, adding that it was also a good opportunity for him to help push

Cambodia towards peace.

Kieth is loyal to ousted premier Prince Norodom Ranariddh and temporarily fled the

country in fear of his life after last July's coup. His uniformed bodyguards accompanied

him throughout his stay in the pagoda.

"Today, I am not only doing good for the Buddhist religion, but I have also

organized the prayer ceremony in order to bring peace for the younger generation

[throughout the nation]," he said.

Tep Vong said that "too much killing" has been occurring recently. He expressed

regret that Cambodia's reputation as a Buddhist country will be harmed as a result.

Yet the monks themselves may not always have been models of tolerance and compassion.

Although the two patriarchs denied any past dispute between the sects, observers

say privately that the conciliatory tone of the prayer ceremony followed years of

subtle friction between the two sects.

"Samdech Preah Anoch and I have good solidarity and we have made a good friendship,"

Tep Vong said. He declined to talk about past bickering between the sects, using

a Khmer proverb: "I don't want to twist off the ants' bottom to make them attack

each other."

But the sects have long-running differences. After the ouster of the anti-religion

Khmer Rouge, Mohanikay was the only Buddhism practiced under the State of Cambodia

regime; Thammayut did not reappear until the King's return in 1991.

Phnom Penh's Wat Botum was originally a Thammayut pagoda, but was taken over by the

Mohanikay during the SOC. In the 90's the resurgent Thammayut asked for their pagoda

back, but the Mohanikay only agreed to split the pagoda half and half, according

to Khmer Buddhist Society director Ou Bun Long. The split continues today.

Thammayut's perceived close association with the Royals - the sect was established

by a Royal family member - and Mohanikay's ascendance during the SOC period has led

some observers to refer to "Funcinpec monks" and "CPP monks".

Differences between the two orders include their methods of prayer and handling of

money, according to Bun Long.

The Mohanikay use a prayer language very similar to Khmer, while the Thammayut use

a more difficult language akin to Sanskrit. And the former sect can use money, while

the latter employs accountants as they cannot touch money, according to Bun Long.

The robes and rice bowls also differ: Mohanikay robes are all one piece, and monks

may hang the rice bowls from their shoulders or hold them. Thammayut robes are of

several pieces and sewn with a different stitch, and monks may only hold their bowls

on the bottom.

But despite their differences, the patriarchs said they are ready to start a new

era of friendship both for their followers and the whole country.

Tep Vong said at the ceremony that peace will not come to Cambodia by just paying

lip service to the word, but that people must follow Buddhist principles, especially

the Five Precepts and the Eightfold Path.

The Five Buddhist Precepts are: don't kill, don't steal, don't drink alcohol, don't

lie and don't commit unchaste acts. The Eightfold Path is: right view; right resolve;

right speech; right action; right livelihood (including not selling arms); right

effort; right mindfulness; right concentration.

Tep Vong said: "If every person at every level can implement at least one of

the Buddhist precepts each, then peace will definitely be reached."

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting