Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday called on monks to join hands in educating people to respect traffic laws and avoid drug use in order to reduce traffic deaths and drug problems.
During a building inauguration at Chey Mongkul pagoda in Kampong Cham province, Mr Hun Sen said the death toll from traffic accidents was higher than casualties from the war.
“Normally, when festivals or religious celebrations are held, Buddhists always come to the pagodas. Through these forums, monks, pagoda laymen and nuns must remind children not to use drugs as it is tragic for the country,” he said.
“I would also like monks, and officials from other religions, to help educate the people to respect traffic laws,” he added. “Too many people die today on the roads, more than those who died during the war; thousands of people have died, been injured or have had property damaged.
“So monks and all religions should join hands to educate people not to use drugs and to educate them to respect traffic laws.”
Heng Monychenda, director of Buddhism for Development, said monks have in the past participated in organising the Dharma program, which included education about traffic laws and drug use.
“If the government leader is keen to push this forward, we will get more monks to participate,” he said. “Our monks now have a lot of ways to help spread news, including renting time on FM radio for disseminating the Dharma, and visiting students in schools and other places, so more participation could greatly reduce the number of traffic accidents and drug problems.”
A total of 1,780 people died and 5,539 people were injured in traffic accidents nationwide in 2017.
According to a report by the National Police’s public order department, there was an increase in deaths and a decrease in injuries compared with the previous year. There were 1,717 deaths and 6,607 injuries reported in 2016.
Ly Sovanna, executive director for the Catholic National Office for Social Communication, said that elders in the Catholic Church often disseminated traffic laws and discussed drug issues with community members, as well as visited students in schools and inmates in prisons.
“These two issues are our concerns as well,” he said. “And when the country’s leader calls for such an appeal, it is encouraging and our Catholic community will increase public awareness because these are social issues we have to work together on.”
According to a recent National Police report, in the first two months of this year 557 traffic accidents occurred, killing 325 people and injuring 407.
Also in the past two months, police have cracked down on 1,245 cases of drug offences and arrested 2,619 people.