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PM instructs ministry to follow monk hierarchy

Ven Rathavong / Khmer Times Share:
Mr Hun Sen at a ceremony yesterday. KT/Ven Rathavong

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday blasted event organisers over handling of seating arrangements during a religious coronation in Phnom Penh.

The seating arrangements during the ceremony was scrutinised by Mr Hun Sen after noticing a common mistake usually made during religious ceremonies in Kandal province and Phnom Penh.

Speaking during a Buddhist watering ceremony yesterday, the premier first justified granting of the holy royal title Samdech to three senior monks by saying that they have done commendable work in the field of religion and that they were qualified to receive the title.

The men were chief monk of Phnom Penh Venerable Kim Sorn, Kandal provincial chief monk Venerable Chea Sam Ang and head monk of Samroang Andet Pagoda Venerable Roth Saroeun.

They were granted royal titles from King Norodom Sihamoni last month following a request by Mr Hun Sen.

However, Mr Hun Sen said that only in Kandal province and Phnom Penh monks that are to receive the royal title sit in the front, while the provincial monk chief sits at the back, when they both should be sitting at the front.

“It’s not the fault of the monks but it’s the organisers of the event,” he said, noting that the provincial monk chief has the same rank as the provincial governor.

“Sometimes, we put the provincial chief monk at the back because the one receiving the Samdech title is in the front,” he said. “This issue does not happen elsewhere but in Kandal and Phnom Penh.”

Mr Hun Sen said that organisers can arrange for two chairs in the front for the provincial monk chief and the monk being given the Samdech title.

“From now on, all organising bodies must follow the hierarchy and not the title,” he said, addressing the Ministry of Cults and Religion.

Seng Somony, a ministry spokesman, said yesterday that Religion Minister Him Chhem will hold a meeting with senior officials, monks and event organisers to heed Mr Hun Sen’s orders.

“After the meeting, we will report to the Prime Minister and we will publish our decision,” he said, adding that a total of 16 monks have received the Samdech title now.

According to Religion Ministry report published yesterday, there are a total of 4,925 pagodas and 66,056 monks across the country.

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