Chea Sim, the president of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, appealed to all Cambodians on Tuesday to embrace Buddhism and let go of jealousy and violence in favor of peace, political stability, social order and development.
Chea Sim, who is also the president of the Senate, spoke at the opening of the 18th annual conference for Buddhist monks.
“Buddhism is virtuous and a leading power to make all of Cambodian society promote social morals and to abandon violence,” he said.
“All Buddhists, please join in conducting good deeds for the [national] interest and the protection of peace, stability, solidarity, hope and national construction toward sustainable prosperity,” he said.
While the government respects the freedom of religion, Buddhism remains the state religion, he said.
With or without religion, Cambodia’s civil society “still worries about violence, jealousy and discrimination,” said Am Sam Ath, lead investigator for the rights group Licadho, “because the implementation of law is still weakening.”
In 2009, Licadho recorded 815 cases of violence relating to human rights violations made by powerful officials or law enforcement authorities, he said. The cases involved shooting deaths and injuries, torture, domestic violence, rape, land grabs and the trafficking of women and children, he said.
“Cambodia still faces many problems which must be solved by standing on the concepts of Buddhism,” Chea Sim said in his address. “Patriots must clear out bad things, to [create] good things through the dharma of cleanliness, strong force, the build up of civilization, culture and a plural democracy in conformity with the rule of law.”