Heng Samrin celebrates Pchum Ben in Tboung Khmum

Heng Samrin and his wife Sao Ty at Wat Kiri Sovannaram on Saturday (Photo: Sor Sovann)

National Assembly president makes offerings to temple where he studied before becoming a monk for five years  


ANLONG CHREY, Tboung Khmum Province — National Assembly President Heng Samrin celebrated Pchum Ben on Saturday at Wat Kiri Sovannaram, the temple where he first studied more than 70 years ago.


Heng Samrin and his wife Sao Ty offered sacks of rice, canned fish, drinking water and tea to monks at the temple, also know as Wat Thkov.


Wat Kiri Sovannaram is located in Anlong Chrey in Ponheakraek District in Tboung Khmum Province where Heng Samrin was born into a poor peasant family in 1934.


In his memoirs, published in English last year, he recounted how he started studying under a monk at the temple at the age of 12.


“I stayed with him until 1949 when I myself became a monk, studying at a Buddhist elementary school for five years,” the honorary president of the Cambodian People’s Party wrote.


Temple burnt to the ground by French forces in 1950s

Heng Samrin recalled that Wat Thkov dated back to 1827 and was burnt to the ground by French colonial forces fighting Khmer Issarak revolutionaries in the 1950s.


“Like many other temples across the country, it was repaired after Liberation on 7 January 1979,” the former president of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea wrote. 


Renovation between 2012 and 2014

“The reconstruction work was, however, not robust, so it was renovated again between 2012 and 2014,” he said.


Ninety-two years after it was founded, Wat Kiri Sovannaram now includes fences and gates, a dormitory and a dining hall.


Heng Samrin visiting his birthplace in Anlong Chrey in Ponheakraek District in Tboung Khmum Province on Friday, a day for the Pchum Ben celebration (Photo: Sor Sovann)


The temple also has flags, shrines, courtyards, gardens, roads, lighting and a sewage system.


Heng Samrin founded the United Front for the National Salvation of Kampuchea in December, 1978, leading to the overthrow of the Pol Pot regime the following month.


He has been National Assembly speaker since 2006 when he succeeded Prince Norodom Ranarridh who resigned.


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