Monday, March 9, 2009

Keynote Address at the Opening of International Conference on “2008 Dialogue on Inter-Religious Cooperation for Peace and Harmony in Phnom Penh”

Inter-Continental Hotel, Phnom Penh, April 03, 2008

- Your Venerable Monks,

- All Venerable Religious Leaders,

- Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests!

Today, it is my great pleasure and honor to join the opening of international conference on “2008 Dialogue on Inter-Religious Cooperation for Peace and Harmony” which is an important dialogue for the region and the world, today and in the future. Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and on my own behalf, I would like to appreciate the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ministry of Religions and Cults, as well as the Embassy of Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and New Zealand in the Kingdom of Cambodia for having jointly organized this conference and for providing both material and financial support to this conference. At the same time, I would also like to thank Your Venerable Monks, religious leaders, especially all the 15 religious representatives as well as Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen who spend your valuable time to attend this conference to share knowledge, experience, findings, and vision about the progress of all religions which is widely regarded as a key for political stability, economic growth as well as stronger culture of peace and harmony for the region and the world.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to highlight that Cambodia has widely opened to allow the rights in religious belief to Cambodian as clearly stipulated in the constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia. In this regard, the Royal Government of Cambodia is highly appreciates the role of religion and puts it in national motto, “Nation, Religion, King” toward enhancing the achievement of parallel progress and joint development which are complementary. As we all know that, religion have contributed a lot to development and peace for the whole society. For instance, religion teach us honesty, justice, good deeds and sin and show us the way to liberate ourselves from miseries by staying away from dishonesty and evil act, from anger, violence and greed in order to make way to tranquility mind. Within such a deep sense, the Royal Government has put effort to encourage and support all religious followers in Cambodia to continue their practices following the rule of each religious bible with mutual understanding and tolerance.

Belief is the root of culture and civilization of every race of each region in the world. Moreover, most religious conflicts of followers could be due to the different culture and civilization. Therefore, it encourages relevant authorities of countries in the region and the world to cooperate and unify together and taking all necessary measures to achieve peace and happiness for human being and, especially harmony among all religions. Indeed, dialogues on many of these issues have been organized in the international inter-belief conference in Asia-Pacific and national conference in Asia-Europe. Even though the topics in those international conferences are different, they have been organized for a single purpose of ensuring—peace and happiness for all religions in the world with mutual understanding and tolerance. As we already know that, peace and happiness are the whishes of every human being and nation.

At the same time, we need to also look at the inter-belief and understanding of religious leaders as individuals and their followers with their daily livelihood. In this context, it means that religious belief and livelihood are interrelated. I think that the strengthening and expanding of social sector through various means such as providing national education, informal education, health cares and enhancing the livelihood of all religious followers as well as supporting the progress of every religion will contribute to the achievement of a society which is free from violence, racism and discrimination.

In Cambodia, all types of religion have been revitalized at the same time as the 7th January 1979 event when the country was liberated from the killing of the Democratic Cambodia regime. In this aspect, I always encourage all religions to live together in harmony and jointly contribute to rebuild and develop Cambodia. These are the tasks which have been partly completed and are being carried out by the Royal Government of Cambodia in the future.

It is true that 95% of Cambodian is Buddhist follower and Buddhism is the national religion, but the country does not prohibit and limit the beliefs of other religious followers. In his context, it clearly manifest that all religious practices are being carried out smoothly all over the country and so far they never caused any threat to the national security and public order. This is a result of the attention made by the Royal Government in the development of religious affairs and enhancing the religious sector to make progress by avoiding the violation of what I have suggested following the three points during the National Inter-belief Conference which was recently held on February 20th:

Firstly - Honor the cooperation, solidarity, honesty base on the principle of mutual respect, understanding and tolerance in all circumstances for the sake of unification and harmony of the society.

Secondly - Respect and practice your respective religious rules while respect the rights of other religious followers by adhering to nonviolence, mercy, compassion and forgiveness.

Thirdly - Respecting personal freedom and religious belief is the value of each religion in its pursuance of the righteous path for national happiness.

Indeed, what is being raised here constitutes good experience for other countries in the region and the world to take as a role model for uniting all religions harmonically and peacefully. At the same time, Cambodia would like to share all experiences from this work and support the inter-religious cooperation to realize harmony and peace.

In short, progress in all religions depends on the belief of their followers. In this regards, the government of all countries should gather all religious leaders and followers to jointly build and develop the society to realize prosperity and harmony without discriminating against any religion and without violence. In this spirit, I would like to appeal to all religious leaders and followers to keep alive the culture of harmonic co-existence ever after to develop our society.

Through the international conference on “2008 Dialogue on Inter-Religious Cooperation for Peace and Harmony” which is being held in the Kingdom of Cambodia, I hope that participants will discuss, exchange dialogue, and contribute their knowledge, experience, findings and vision to enable this inter-religious conference to achieve its plan and common principles which constitute the principles of culture of peace. At the same time, I would like to appeal to all religious representatives, especially religious representatives from the 15 countries who are here, to disseminate and mainstream the principles of culture of peace, specifically the will, spirit, moral, and humanity to all parts of the world; and may the culture of peace exist everywhere in the world.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to share three recommendations for your discussion as follows:

First- we must push the delivery and absorption of scientifically global knowledge in all societies and countries;

Second- we must push the sharing of culture, civilization, and arts amongst all nationals to compromise the differences and realize joint accomplishment;

Third- we must promote all religions’ participation in dealing with major global issues such as environment, food security, and poverty etc.

Once again, I would like to thank all friend countries for supporting this conference and related institutions for cooperating closely with one another to organize this conference. Your support and encouragement are the dynamic force and enable the future conferences of this kind. At the same time, I wish this conference to proceed smoothly and fruitfully for the benefit of the society and all human beings.

Finally, I would like to wish Your Venerable Monks, religious leaders, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen the 5 Gems of Buddhist Blessing; and may I now declare the opening of the “2008 Dialogue on Inter-Religious Cooperation for Peace and Harmony” conference from now on.


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