The government is working to ensure that people from different ethnicities and religions live in harmony, according to Royal Cambodian Armed Forces deputy commander Hun Manet.
During a ceremony at Yous Montrey pagoda in Kampot province’s Angkor Chey district on Sunday, Mr Manet said the government strived for religious harmony.
“Religion is the foundation of a culture of peace, because religion leads people to happiness. The political issue of religious harmony is very important, whether in a small or large country,” he said.
Cambodia is largely Buddhist, but citizens have the right to respectfully practice any tradition, custom or religion without restraint. Some people follow different religions – such as Islam or Christianity – and other cultures’ traditions, like Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year.
Prime Minister Hun Sen last week wished Cambodian-Chinese citizens a happy Chinese New Year. He also recently mentioned that the number of people celebrating Chinese New Year in Cambodia was increasing.
He said Cambodia now has three New Year celebrations annually, including New Year’s Eve and the Chinese and Khmer New Year.
“The nation has peace and citizens have freedom to fully choose religious beliefs, as well as the celebration of festivals according to their traditions,” he said in late January.
Sambo Manara, a history professor at a university in Phnom Penh, said Cambodians have experienced a lot of pain in the past, which has resulted in a lack of mental harmony.
He said that in today’s society, Cambodians will participate in almost any festival or religious affiliation.
“We are worried that people will accept new influences while knowing it has no effect on them or they will accept them knowing it will destroy their happiness. Cambodians need to educate their children to know if something has an effect or not,” he said.
He added that Cambodians who celebrate other customs and traditions should first recognise the culture of their own nation clearly and then take advantage of other cultures to improve society’s cultural development.