Hun Sen Says Cambodia A ‘Heaven’ for Tolerance

Cambodia’s disparate religious groups live harmoniously together and are unlikely to experience any of the divisions that are leading to violence in Burma and Southern Thailand, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thursday.

Speaking to a crowd of about 5,000 members of the CPP in Kompong Cham province, as well as local villagers, monks and members of the Cham Muslim community, Mr. Hun Sen said that Cambodia is now a “heaven” when it comes to religious tolerance.

“Today, we have a Buddhist ceremony with the participation of our Islamic friends, which shows the harmony in which diverse religions here live —it shows we have no discrimination here,” Mr. Hun Sen said, adding that only a few days ago, Buddhists in Burma burned down Islamic mosques, while Thailand has long suffered violence from Muslim separatists.

Before finishing his speech yesterday, Mr. Hun Sen donated three large-screen televisions to the pagoda where he made his speech, but he stressed that they should be used only for religious purposes.

“Are monks al­lowed to watch TV?” he asked, before joking: “Watch only sermons—don’t go watching beautiful women!”

© 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.