Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Khmer Buddhism is Disgraced and Endangered by Tep Vong

Tep Vong Shows his friendship with Vietnamese head monk

Tep Vong visited Vietnamese Temple
By ខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម

Theravada Buddhism is one of the three denominations of Buddhism--Mahayana, Hinayana or Theravada, and Lamaism--has survived and prospered for centuries in only a few countries in the world: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. Separately, Theravada Buddhism in Cambodia has prospered and practised by Khmer since the Angkor Era until today. But it has been endangered when The Khmer Rouge Regime had completely eradicated all religions during their rule followed by strictly controlled and interfered by the Vietnamese backed regime until today. Khmer Buddhism today has lost value and dignity, for this institution has been directly controlled by the ruling party (CPP), installing Tep Vong, an ignorance monk, as the Great Supreme Patriarch of the Khmer Buddhism for which he has absolutely not qualified or deserved based on his religious adept and merit.

Theoretically, the Communists have not endorsed or valued any kind of religions, for it is against their political ideologies; nonetheless, most Communist regimes in the world have not eliminated the religions but severely restricted and discouraged people to adhere them. The Russian Revolution under Starlin's rule and the Chinese Cultural Revolution introduced by Mao Se Tong had almost wiped out the religions from their countries before reviving by the new reform governments. Similarly, the Pol Pot Regime had persecuted and eliminated all forms of religion, especially Buddhism in which more than 95 percent of the people have adhered over centuries. After the Vietnamese invasion in 1979, the Communist Vietnamese while were persecuting their own religions at home, saw the revival of the religions from Pol Pot's eradication in Cambodia, namely Buddhism and Islam would provide them more political gain in their new land. Vietnam brought in a set up group of Khmer Buddhist monks and Khmer Islams to work along with the new Communist puppet regime in Cambodia including the current so-called  Great Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia, Tep Vong-- an unscrupulous and uneducated monk-- to propagandize for the new Communist regime as a savior of Khmer lives and Buddhism.

In fact, Buddhism under the new Communist regime was not prosperous but sternly restricted and neglected under a supervision of Tep Vong. The number of Buddhist monks were restricted to less than ten in each temple (Wat), and only the older people (at least 50 years old or older) were allowed to ordain. And in some places, the monks were ordered to grow vegetables and rice to support themselves. There were no formal Buddhist teaching schools allowed, and some Wat and parts of their vicinities were used as the Vietnamese military bases especially in Battambang and the other provinces along the Thai borders. Furthermore, Buddhist monks were ordered to preach politics as Buddhist sermon, narrating about killings, persecution, and starvation during the Pol Pot Regime, and  the salvation from the Vietnamese Volunteer troops. Of course, the new Communist regime did not eradicated the religions as Pol Pot had done, but they let them slowly perished. Without teaching schools and new young ordained monks, the Buddhism would gradually decease. This is how the Communists have treated Buddhism.

After the Paris Peace Accord 1991, all religions in the country have freely allowed to practised; many religious schools, new temples (Wat), Mosques, and churches have sprung up across the country. But Buddhism, a state religion, has been dangerously interfered by the ruling party, the CPP. In the first mandate of the coalition government between the Forncinpec an the CPP with the two prime ministers sharing the power, the religious power was also shared between the two parties. The CPP  appointed their own candidate, Tep Vong, as the Supreme Patriarch of the Mohanikaya Sect (the larger group) while the Royalists appointed Venerable Bou Kry as the Supreme Patriarch of the Dhamayuttika Sect (the much smaller group) which has a close tie with the Royal Palace. But when the Forncinpec power had vanished, the CPP elevated Tep Vong to his top position as the Great Supreme Patriarch of the Buddhism in the country, meaning that he has the power to rule over both sects. Eventually, the religious practices from the Royal palace to the ordinary practices in the countrysides has been fully controlled by Tep Vong.

The culture of sharing power and promoting the title and status without substantial merit and knowledge base have created the corrupted and disgraceful society in the country because there is no standard measure that has qualified the candidates to hold the title or status in the society. We have just wondered for Hun Sen, his wife, and many top CPP officials who have held the highest titles and status in the society based on what standard measure: educational degree, life experiences, community or social services, field expertile, and any other merit?  For Tep Vong to hold the title of the Great Supreme Patriarch of Buddhism in the country is much higher than our two previous prominent and highly respected Supreme Patriarchs, Venerable Chuon Nath and Huot Tard, the former professors of Pali and Sanskrit at the Buddhist University. Exclusively,Venerable Chuon Nath was not only adept in Buddhist Scriptures, but he was also a very salient Khmer Language scholar who had worked tirelessly even in his old age to create the first Khmer Dictionary put in use for generations. On the contrary, Tep Vong has received no any formal education degree in Buddhism and merit that have qualified him to receive such a highest title in the Buddhism institution. Instead, he was installed by the Vietnamese invasion in 1979 as the head of Buddhist monks for the new Communist regime, and his title and position have been elevated since then, probably not based on his merit and religious adept but on his faith and commitment to Hanoi's interest.

Frankly speaking, Tep Vong has not been prominent by his title as the Great Supreme Patriarch of Cambodian Buddhism but well-known as the monk of 7 January or Hochimonk, the nickname used by many media because he seems know nothing about Buddhist Dhama but the imprinted ideology from Hanoi. The pictures above have clearly shown us about his eerie and clumsy gesture as a Buddhist monk rarely seen in this world. Lacking of Buddhism's knowledge and principle, he has persistently forbidden monks to vote, to participate in any political activities, and even to help the poor and the victims of land grabbing, for he has absurdly claimed that those activities are not compatible to Lord Buddha's teaching or simply against the Buddhist laws. For those who did not fallow his order were forcibly disrobed or expelled from Wat permanently such as Ven. Tim Sakorn, Ven. Luon Savath, and recently three novices were beaten up by their Abbott for joining the peaceful rally of the CNRP while the other monk was threatened by his Abbott to kick him out of Wat if he dares to participate the CNRP's rally again. These are only few examples that help us to understand who Tep Vong is, why he condones violence, for what purpose, and whether he is a true Buddhist monk or not, and are all his actions compatible with the Buddhism principle?

Since the fall of Khmer Republic in 1975, Buddhism in the country had been destroyed by the Pol Pot Regime, and fallowing the Vietnamese invasion in 1979, Buddhism has been used by Hanoi and their subordinate regime as a political mechanism to achieve their political ambitions. The Vietnamese have well apprehended that the most majority of Khmer people are Buddhists, so they need to pervade in such a highly respected institution by installing their brainwashed monks such as Tep Vong and Noun Nget as the supreme leaders to control and to persecute our faithful and true Buddhist monks. They have set up administrative control over Wat throughout the country to watch and to spy over the monks who have passion to search for social justices or have different political views. The Buddhism in Cambodia will never be prosperous and well preserved as in the past if Tep Vong has held the position as the Great Supreme Patriarch along with his partner, Noun Nget who have worked to serve Hanoi's interest by destroying  their own religion, Theravada Buddhism which has been preserved and venerated by our Khmer people for centuries.

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