Monday, March 9, 2009

Comments at the Inauguration of the Buddhist Statue in the Tuol Prah Raja Pagoda in the District of Koh Thom, Kandal Province

27 February 08

My wife and I are so happy to join with all of our people here in the inauguration ceremony of the sitting statue of Buddha at the height of 93 meters by 33 meters wide, as well as other achievements in the Tuol Prah Raja pagoda in the district of Koh Thom in the province of Kandal. I am so astonished to see such an achievement that is beyond my expectation, though I have been briefed fairly continuously on the construction itself. This is according to what I have seen is a very pagoda compared to pagodas elsewhere in our country.

I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation and thanks to Preah Dhammarchar Thean Vuthi who since his youth of 17 years old has devoted his life for the development of this project under guidance of Buddhism. The effort has brought this place to become a pagoda with official head monk as said by the Governor of Kandal HE Chhun Sirun that it is not until 2004 that this pagoda became official.

I have been briefed by HE Men Sam An, Senior Minister and Minister for Relations with the Assembly, and the Buddhist master Thean Vuthi who has also made some significant contribution for the Cambodian Red Cross with my wife, who is actually the President of the Cambodian Red Cross, but what I have learned from those report of the Tuol Prah Raja pagoda is not that impressive as I have seen with my own eyes.

The construction started in 1992 and according to one of his interviews with the Apsara TV program, the Pheah Dhammachar Thean Vuthi told about a dream he had in getting to the place - Tuol Prah Raja. It was started in a very difficult condition, which is shared by the whole nation. 1992 was a transitional period to the implementation of the Paris Peace Agreement. It was then a hard time. The country was still in difficult period. But because of belief that take a deep root in persons step by step the achievement of the 93 meters tall Buddhist statue at the cost of 2,385,000 US dollars is here before us to stay.

It is on this occasion that I would suggest that anything can happen because of belief, and that would also take into consideration belief in politics and economics. Primarily, if there were no belief, there would not be participation. With belief and participation one can get things done. I have no other concern but appreciation for all of the Buddhist monks and parishioners and Preah Dhammarchar Thean Vuthi for the efforts they all made to lead the movement for constructing such an immense achievement. What I would have your attention here is that it is possible not because of superstition but because of your efforts all together.

What remains to be resolved now is perhaps how our people can get to the pagoda in a comfortable trip. HE Heng Taikry, HE Dul Koeun, and Mr. Meas Soen have taken this matter into consideration. They have come up with a solution to build an asphalted road number 110 at the length of 88 kilometers with 108 meters of which are bridges and water passages of other forms running through the districts of Mean Chey of 4,6 kilometers, Kien Svay of 19,4 kilometers, Sa Ang of 24,6 kilometers and Koh Thom of 39,4 meters. We also have a vision that by 2009 the road will stretch all the way through to the border with Vietnam.

This area is going to be a prosperous one because we will have electricity wired from Vietnam with excellent road condition as well. It is indeed silly for those who have argued that Cambodia loses its border to Vietnam every day at the rate of around 100 meters per day. How much land Cambodia would have left after 365 days? But in reality we have from here to the border another 39 kilometers. If it was true like what they have said or lied the people, we would not have Cambodia by this time.

I would say that the topic of pointing finger at anyone of selling land to foreign country is a despicable subject. It dishonors the Cambodian nation and race. What can we do if this is the de facto territory that is left to us from our ancestors? We resolutely defend what is inscribed in the Constitution. During the last Khmer New Year I went to the border with other people in disguise. I went all the way to the Chrey Thom River. I stood watching the river over which Cambodia and Vietnam will build a bridge across so as to facilitate our people in their relationship and business contacts. Thanks to this trip I saw how damaging has the road been. I called the Secretary of State of Economy and Finance to work for immediate reparation.

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