Tep Vong, Supreme Patriarch of the Mohanikaya Buddhist sect, introduced a proposal last week to turn Wat Ounalom’s much-debated wood-burning crematorium into a modern, electric-run facility, tossing his opinion into the debate over the crematorium’s fate.
“Cremation through electricity is perfect: It’s clean, there is no smoke, it’s quiet and it will not scare people away,” he said Friday.
The debate about the city’s crematoriums began in March when monks opposed the municipality’s plans to move them outside the city.
City Hall’s decision was spurred by the Sokimex company, which wants to turn land near Wat Ounalom’s crematorium into a hospital or a hotel, but fears the crematorium would deter business.
The Sokimex development, located on the former site of T3 Prison near the river front, “will be stuck if the crematorium remains in Wat Ounalom, because it makes the people scared,” said Sokimex President Sok Kong.
“We will discuss with Samdech Tep Vong to choose something that makes the development possible,” he added. “If the crematorium is there, we can’t do anything.”
An electric crematorium will “help reduce environmental problems in the city and especially reduce the number of trees cut down,” Tep Vong said.
But if it cannot be built in Wat Ounalom, Tep Vong said, “we will find a piece of land to build one on the outskirts of the city.”
Tep Vong also warned monks not to oppose him: “Some people who oppose my ideas really oppose religious development.”