National Assembly President Chea Sim on Thursday inaugurated the $500,000 Buddhist Institute in Phnom Penh, calling it “a priceless gift” from the Japanese organizations that subsidized it.
The institute will house the nation’s Buddhist text collection, which is being rebuilt after the previous array was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge in 1975. The collection had included 40,000 texts until that point, according to a report distributed at the ceremony.
Also, Chea Sim said the institute would continue its work training monks, publishing books and serving as a cultural meeting place.
The Buddhist Institute “stands as a symbol of the proclamation of a new calendar for the intellectual development illuminated by Buddha toward perpetual material and spiritual need for all Cambodia and its people,” Chea Sim said in his speech at the inauguration of the institute.
The Buddhist Institute was relaunched in 1992 under the auspices of the Ministry of Cults and Religions and was located in Wat Ounalom on Sisowath Quay.
Construction on the new building, located near the National Museum, began about two years ago and was funded by donations from the Japanese lay- Buddhist organization The Rissho Kosei-kai Funds for Peace, with the assistance of the Japan Sotushu Relief Committee.
“The present Buddhist Institute has been making an effort to regain the past status as a national center of study, research and documentation as well as a center of dialogue and discussion,” Hien Vanniroth, secretary of state of the Ministry of Cults and Religion said.
The new two-story building, designed with a Khmer motif, has 2,225 square meters of space and 16 rooms, including a conference hall.
To raise funds, the Japanese association members skipped three meals per month and donated that money to the relief committee.