Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday denounced those who he claimed insult the logo of the ruling CPP, saying that people who mock the flying devada are committing a sin.
Speaking in Koh Kong province on Monday, the premier warned against referring to the devada as a “srey leik cheoung,” or a woman lifting her leg who is perceived to be immodest. He said doing so would only bring them harm.
“I remember before they cursed [the logo] as the woman lifting her leg. Cursing the devada is a sin like this…. It is the symbol of the Cambodian People’s Party,” he said.
“The hats or shirts with the devada image, if they are stepped on it, this is also a sin and [one] goes to hell,” he continued.
The premier also said those lacking an image of a devada but wanting to pray to it could use the CPP logo in its place.
“Some place, if it doesn’t have the devada image [you] can borrow the Cambodian People’s Party to pray. It doesn’t matter,” Mr Hun Sen said.
Devadas are supernatural beings in the Buddhist pantheon that serve as angel-like entities believed by Cambodians to help people.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the devada represents the party’s work at helping Cambodia escape the suffering of the past.
“People respect the devada as a second mother delivering them and helping them survive from Pol Pot,” he said.
Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said political parties should avoid using religious icons venerated by the public.
“Parties have a different concept” than religions, he said. “The symbol of a party should avoid having the picture that most people respect, such as the picture of the king or a devada.”
The Cambodian Constitution states that Buddhism is the national religion but guarantees individual freedom of belief as long as this does not affect “other religious beliefs or violate public order and security.”
(Additional reporting by Frank Radosevich)