Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh has called on the Khmer ethnic group to act as role models, especially in agricultural production and creating new-style rural areas.

The official made the appeal at an April 4 meeting with officials, dignitaries, monks, nuns and Khmer Buddhist followers from 17 southern cities and provinces in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho . Attendees had gathered to celebrate the Khmer people’s traditional New Year festival, Chol Chnam Thmay.

At the event, which was organised by the Steering Committee for the Southwestern region, Deputy PM Ninh urged the country’s Khmer population to bring into full play their traditional cultural identity along with ensuring political security and social order and safety.

He also asked the Khmer Theravada dignitaries to exert greater effort in Buddhist work to help the Patriotic United Buddhist Association improve its performance.

Monks and nuns were briefed on the socio-economic situation and national defence in the region as well as the Party and State’s policies towards the Khmer ethnic minorities over the past years.

The Deputy PM laid stress on the need for ministries, branches and localities in the region to implement national policies and guidelines on ethnics and religions while paying more care to Khmer people.

On this occasion, he wished all dignitaries and Khmer people a happy and safe festival.

According to Nguyen Quang Phong, deputy head of the committee, in 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, authorities have effectively implemented the ethnic and religious policies of the Party and the State, thus creating significant changes in various fields.

Localities have poured investment in socio-economic infrastructure and supported Khmer people in production, vocational training, job generation and poverty reduction, he said.

On this occasion, the committee presented 26 certificates of merit to individuals who have made great contributions to preserving and promoting Khmer people’s cultural values.

Can Tho is home to over 5,200 Khmer households with nearly 23,000 people who are living around 12 Khmer pagodas of the Khmer Nam Tong (Theravada).-VNA