National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh said Wednesday that Cambodia will remain free of the religious tensions that have flared up in other parts of the world.
The prince made his comments to the press outside the National Assembly the day before the start of the three-day Buddhist Conference in Phnom Penh. Delegates from 15 countries are expected.
Prince Ranariddh said Cambodia will not have religious tensions because the country is still dominated by Buddhism, and founded on the tenets of compromise and patience. “Buddhism represents 90 percent of the population of Cambodia and Buddhists here respect other religions, so there will never be any [religious] disputes,” he said.
The conference will also coincide with a celebration of King Norodom Sihanouk’s recent 80th birthday, Prince Ranariddh said.
The King this month will climb the 424 steps to the top of the ancient capital of Odong, where he will place relics believed to be the remains of the Buddha in a new stupa, the prince said. The relics are said to be bits of the Buddha’s teeth. The King will travel to the top of Odong on Dec 12 and Dec 19, Prince Ranariddh said.
It has been the King’s desire to move the relics from their current location in a stupa in front of the railway station, because the King believes that the current location is not worthy of the relics, Prince Ranariddh said.
The relics have been in their current location since 1991. The National Ceremonies Committee had originally planned to move the relics to Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh, but in 1993 the Royal Palace’s soothsayer said the relics should be housed on a mountain top. The Odong stupa has been under construction since 1995.
“When the relics are moved to a good place, they will bring good luck and harmony to Cambodia,” the prince said. He added that he hopes the relics will help Cambodian politicians to compromise and have a better understanding of each other.