National Assembly President Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin conferred an honorary royal title Sunday on the chief abbot at Wat Thkov, the temple in Ponhea Krek district where he first studied as a boy.
Chief Abbot Mok Kimsan received the title of Preah Reachea Kanak Keteyus at a ceremony at the temple in Anlong Chrey village in Kak commune, where Samdech Heng Samrin was born in 1934.
Also attending the ceremony was Samdech Vibol Sena Pheakdei Say Chhum, President of the Senate and Lok Cumteav Khuon Sudary, Second Vice President of the National Assembly.
Among other top leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party were Deputy Prime Minister Lok Chumteav Men Sam An and National Bank of Cambodia Governor H.E. Chea Chanto.
In his memoirs published in English in 2018, Samdech Heng Samrin describes how he lived and studied at Wat Thkov for three months more than seventy years ago.
“During the period when Cambodia was a French protectorate, the authorities generally did not build schools for children to study in villages or communes. Education in rural areas was limited to temples,” he wrote.
"Wat Thkov had many students but most of them went home in the evening. The facilities were basic. The students sat beneath the monk’s house. They had no books."
“Instead of chalk, the teacher used charcoal. There was no electricity, so to study at night we made a bonfire or used a torch,” the National Assembly president added.
Samdech Heng Samrin recalled studying at Wat Thkov until 1949, when he left to study at a Buddhist elementary school for five years before leaving the monkhood in 1954.
Dating back to 1827, Wat Thkov was bombed and burnt to the ground by French colonial forces fighting Khmer Issarak revolutionaries in the 1950s.
The temple, formally known as Wat Kiri Sovannaram, was repaired after the defeat of Pol Pot forces in 1979, with further renovations between 2012 and 2014.
Today, the temple grounds include fences and gates, a dormitory and a dining hall as well as flags, shrines, courtyards, gardens, roads, lighting and a sewage system.
Source: Agency Kampuchea Press