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Cambodian Monk Pursuing Leadership Skills at Harvard

Khmer Radio / Hello VOA, 27 August 2012

Bhikkhu Hoeurn Somnieng receives a degree in business management from St. Ambrose University in Iowa, USA.

WASHINGTON DC, USA -- Because public management in Cambodia is still week, venerable monk Hoeurn Somnieng, is pursuing a graduate degree at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

<< Bhikkhu Hoeurn Somnieng hopes to use the skills he takes from the Kennedy School to restructure the management of Cambodian Buddhism.

He told VOA Khmer on Monday that Cambodia’s Buddhism in particular lacks leadership and management from the monastery to the national level. Hoeurn Somnieng said everyone needs to carefully utilize their knowledge so that it benefits the nation as a whole.

“If we serve individuals, it benefits individuals, but if we use our knowledge to serve the nation, it benefits the nation,” he said.

Hoeurn Somnieng is the founder of the Life and Hope Association and chairs a number of NGO networks based in Siem Reap province. He hopes to use the skills he takes from the Kennedy School to restructure the management of Cambodian Buddhism.

“I believe that I can help contribute to strengthening our Buddhist sector, if not for the whole country, at least the ones I am responsible for,” he said. “I cannot say I am able to reform Cambodia’s public sector, but I can say I will try to help strengthen our national institutions. I can see that the government has been trying to reform the public sector, but it is questionable whether it is effective.”

Hoeurn Somnieng said strengthening Cambodia’s Buddhist sector will require a high level of capacity and genuine systematic reform. It has to start from leadership at the monasterial level. People are influenced by their social environment, he said, wherein the rule of law and the effectiveness of law enforcement have to be taken into account.

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