City Spruces Up for Buddhist Delegations

With the colored banners and flags of the sects from countries sending delegates to this week’s Buddhist Conference, authorities today were preparing to welcome the most recent visitors in what is becoming Cambodia’s season for showcase conventions.

Crews worked furiously around Phnom Penh, brushing off the last few drops of paint and hanging decorations to mark the Third World Buddhism Con­ference. “We tried to finish everything today, even the decorations of Chaktomuk Hall, because [Wednesday] all the delegations will arrive,” Minister of Cult and Religious Affairs Chea Savoeun said on Tuesday.

All this week, Buddhists from around the world will converge on Phnom Penh—the first time the international conference has been held here. Already, a delegation from Japan has arrived, officials said. Delegates from the other 14 countries sending representatives are scheduled to arrive through today, officials said.

The conference will open at the Royal Palace, with the blessing of King Norodom Sihanouk, Chea Savoeun said.

Cambodia is paying for security and protocol, but the Nenbut­sushu Buddhist sect from Japan is bankrolling the rest of the conference, National and Inter­na­tional Ceremonies Committee of­ficial Chea Khean said.

“The topic of this conference is a discussion of peace in the world and trying to cut down on violence in the world. Having Japan help in this work helps because they have experience doing it,” Chea Khean said.

Security around the city was already hunkering down, but not quite to the degree shown during November’s Asean Summit, which brought unprecedented attention to Cambodia, officials said.

“We already sent police around yesterday to secure the main streets and around the hotels where the delegations are staying,” Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Suon Chhengly said.

The Buddhist Conference is at least the third major international event to be held in Phnom Penh in the last month.

In addition to Asean and its related meetings, Cambodia also hosted the Greater Mekong Subregion discussions last month.


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