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Former CNRP Meach Sovannara becomes monk after pardon

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Former Cambodia National Rescue Party member Meach Sovannara spoke to the press last week after the release. Heng Chivoan

Former CNRP Meach Sovannara becomes monk after pardon

Former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) senior official Meach Sovannara was ordained into monkhood on Saturday, few days after his release from prison.

After spending nearly four years incarcerated on charges related to a political demonstration at Freedom Park in 2014, Sovannara and the other ex-CNRP members were given a royal pardon and released on August 28.

He then resided in Domnak pagoda in Siam Reap province, during which time he decided to be a monk for a week.

For Sovannara, becoming a monk is a way of saying thanks to his parents and praying for peace as well as putting an end to political violence – including threats, murders, imprisonments, and exile – in the Kingdom.

“I decided to be a monk to thank my parents and to pray for their longevity. In addition, I wanted all Cambodians to put a halt to violence and find inner peace. We should take part in problem-solving and compassion-seeking, all for the betterment of Cambodians,” he said.

Analyst Hang Vitou said Sovannara’s decision had no effect on Cambodian politics. However, it would make a good precedent for people and politicians to apply virtue by understanding and practising forgiveness instead of using violence to solve the Kingdom’s problems.

He said that monks are not politicians, but they can encourage politicians and civilians to educate their heart.

“Venerable monks can use their role to teach the Dharma. We know that Buddha was not a politician, but he taught wisdom in the qualities good leaders should have."

“Moreover, prime ministers in Thailand and Laos tend to listen to monks’ preachings on leadership.”

Among those who participated in Sovannara’s monkhood ceremony were Prince Sisowath Thomico, a former senior member of the court-dissolved CNRP, Lao Mong Hay, former advisor to Kem Sokha, and other former CNRP activists.

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