Officials Bring Buddhists to Prison, Hope for Change

by Tin Sokhavuth, Khmer Times, 18 January 2016

Phnom Penh, Cambodia -- Prisoners in Pailin’s Salakrao district received an unusual visit this Saturday, as a group of government officials and spiritual leaders dropped in to spread Buddhist teachings in an attempt to better prepare them for life outside bars.

Deputy governor of Pailin province Thou Phia, his wife Chea Leap, Provincial chief monk Sann Lee, Noun Savuth, Counselor of his Venerable Non Gnetand and a number of provincial government officials specifically emphasized the importance of the five Buddhist commandments to living a good life after prison, according to director of the provincial cabinet Hem Rithy when asked by Khmer Times about the visit.
According to Mr. Rithy, after delivering a sermon, the deputy governor said that the Buddhist five commandments could help everyone, even those in the greater Cambodian society, to live in happiness.
Mr. Phia also said that the inmates should meditate on Buddhist teachings and implement them in their everyday life, especially when they get out of prison.
He added that the reason why they were arrested and put in jail was because they did not obey these five commandments – they stole, robbed, killed or sold drugs, which destroyed many families and caused chaos in society.
His venerable Sokha Vohathe, abbot of the Ampor Rainsey pagoda in Kandal Steung district, Kandal province, told Khmer Times that it is difficult to change inmates’ mind for good.
“The fact was they were not the same. They have different degrees of knowledge and different degrees of intelligence. Some inmates could understand our Lord Buddha’s teaching and apply it in their life without problem. Some other inmates don’t have this ability, so the five commandments of our Lord Buddha should be taught repeatedly,” he said.

The five Buddhist commandments are: to abstain from harming living beings, to abstain from stealing, to abstain from sexual misconduct, to abstain from lying and to abstain from intoxication.