New Radio Show: Religions Unite to Build Culture of Peace and Justice

12 April 2016
Regional Coordinator for URI-Southeast Asia and the Pacific - West Zone

The show is every Tuesday on FM 92.80 MHz, and the program is called  “Religions Unite to Build Culture of Peace and Justice.”  

It is in the Khmer language and the air coverage is not so good, so I do not think there is a way that international listeners can hear it. But if any of the URI family wish to talk on the show, I can connect through Skype or you record the talk and I will just play it on air for you in English or I can translate and record it in Khmer to play it on air.

My intention for creating the radio program is to raise awareness of URI’s work, as well as to educate people about the diversity of the religious practices of Muslims, Christians and Buddhists in Cambodia. I believe the URI Preamble, Purpose & Principles (PPP)s are the keys to bonding us all together. Therefore, in most of my talks I read the PPPs. 

Another intention I have is to serve this show as another platform which Cooperation Circles in Cambodia (and maybe from the wider region, if any of them are interested) can use to talk about their work.

Cooperation Circle leaders came a couple of times to talk about the ways of Christians, Muslims and Buddhists. We talk about the Golden Rule and, most importantly, the URI Preamble, Purpose and Principles. I often read the vision statement of URI. Then I read the principles one by one.  The key message here is that if we all live the PPPs, the world is at peace.

Sometimes people call in to ask: what is URI? I explain and people say they have never heard of URI. They said it is good to have such an organization. Another good question I receive is, “What is interfaith?” People find it a very new idea. They have not thought of interfaith cooperation before. 

A few people said Cambodia is a very good country because most people are Buddha’s followers and people do not discriminate against other religions. But I have a response to that. Just because we do not have much conflict or violence between the different religions here, it does not mean we are at peace. I tell them, in Cambodia, people of different religious backgrounds do not really cooperate or work together yet. In fact, there are many myths and prejudices about each other.

I also asked a few monks what they think of the program. The monks said it was a new idea. They said most people know about another religions but they do not care, and they are not willing to learn about the others’ different practices. They do not really understand e.g. the way of Muslims, Christians and Buddhists. Buddhism is a national religion, but Cambodians do not really understand the Buddhist way of practice very well, either.

I was amazed by their suggestion inviting Muslims to talk about MUSLIM CULTURE more often. I agreed with them. Some people think Muslims do not eat pig because pig is their mother. They think that Muslims can kill people and animals, and killing others and animals will satisfy their God, so God will send them to heaven. These are harmful myths.

There are also harmful myths about Christianity, people think Christians teach people to love God more than their parents. They think that Christians ban people from going to Pagoda, and that when you become Christian you will forget your parents and everything is God instead. People are also concerned that Christians will take over Buddhism because Christians do spread the word of God and invite people to become Christians. This, somehow, frightens many people in Cambodia. The monks also feel threatened by the increasing number of people who join Christianity.

My plan is to invite more Cooperation Circles here in Cambodia to actively join the radio show. Then we will talk about how to make this even more interesting. I hope to write more about it when I have more positive information. 

In peace, 

Sothearwat Seoung

Regional Coordinator for URI Southeast Asia and the Pacific - West Zone