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Prime minister calls on govt to address 'laymen shortage'

Prime minister calls on govt to address 'laymen shortage'


Citing a rise in weddings and other Buddhist ceremonies, Minister of Religion Min Khin says his ministry will train more people.

Photo by:
Tracey Shelton

A layman prepares for a ceremony at a pagoda in Kandal province earlier this year. 

PRIME Minister Hun Sen has expressed alarm at the nation's "serious shortage" of laymen,  despite a perceived increase in weddings, funerals and other ceremonial celebrations across the country.

"Due to an increased number of weddings ... per day, the shortage of laymen is now a serious crisis," he said last week.

"Before we had a crisis on the shortage of teachers and physicians ... now we have a crisis on the shortage of laymen."

He ordered Minister of Cults and Religions Min Khin to discuss how to train people to be professional laymen, saying that some did not follow the Buddhist cultural and traditional rule.

"It's true that the Ministry of Cults and Religions must pay attention to the crisis ... Min Khin has to train laymen on what to do at weddings, age ceremonies, funerals," he said.

Hun Sen added that as laymen attended many ceremonies each day, some of them forgot to uphold certain rules, while others did not know what to do for certain occasions.

Ministry commits to training

Min Khin recognised that Cambodia was currently in need of more laymen, and said that he had organised a meeting at the end of the month to train people in different pagodas throughout Cambodia.

 "We are going to train people in order to have more laymen in each pagoda to meet the demands of people living in each area," he said.

Min Khin said that the required number of laymen could be three or 10 per pagoda, depending on the number of people living near it.

He said Cambodia currently has more than 4,300 pagodas.    

Min Khin confirmed that Cambodia had previously required no training of laymen  and that they were usually just selected by people living near pagodas.

Opposition parliamentarian Son Chhay said Cambodia lacked the human resources to have good laymen and that many people who were knowledgeable of Buddhist traditions were able to be laymen, but they had never been chosen due to partisanship existing in the pagoda.

"Not only is the state's administration corrupt, but the state's pagodas are corrupt too," he said.

"There will be no progress at all unless they stop making partisanship and money the priority," he added.