The government has failed in recent years to take steps to prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence committed during the Khmer Rouge, according to the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
During a ceremony at his Peace Palace on Tuesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen anointed nine members of the Buddhist clergy and the country’s Finance Minister with the honorary and exclusive honorific of Keti Banditt, which translates roughly to “glorious person of genius.”
The 10 titles were bestowed on the supreme patriarchs of Cambodia’s Mohanikaya and Dhamayuth Buddhist sects along with six other Buddhist patriarchs and Finance Minister Keat Chhon by the Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC), according to Ros Chantrabot, a member of the RAC and adviser to Mr. Hun Sen.
The nine Buddhist clergy were given the honorific Keti Uttes Banditt, or “glorious preacher of genius,” while Mr. Chhon was given the title of Keti Setah Banditt, or “glorious economist of genius.”
“This is the first time that we have provided these new titles to Cambodia’s top Buddhist monks, who have been crucial to developing and consecrating Cambodian Buddhism,” Mr. Chantrabot said.
He said that the awarding of the new titles was meant to ensure that the country’s Buddhist hierarchy continues to keep their focus on improving the country’s connection to Buddhist values.
A similar, but even more prestigious, honorific was bestowed upon first lady Bun Rany, CPP and Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Heng Samrin during ceremonies in 2011.
The RAC, whose honorary president is Mr. Hun Sen, named each Katti Pritt Banditt, or “most glorious and upright person of genius.”
Independent political analyst Lao Mong Hay said Tuesday that part of Buddha’s enlightenment was the realization that titles and material possessions were meaningless.
“Buddha advised his followers to be without material desires. He left his title as king and all of his wealth behind,” he said.
© 2013, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.