The local Cambodian community at Bonnyrigg welcomed Victorian MP Meng Heang Tak on a recent visit to Sydney.
The Cambodia-born Labor MP was elected last year to represent the multicultural electorate of Clarinda in Melbourne, where many Cambodians have settled.
He found a kindred spirit among his fellow Cambodians here in the South-West.
Heang Tak came to Australia from Cambodia at 16 and studied law at Victoria University.
"He's an inspiration for us and a role model for the younger generation."
THIN EM, President,
Cambodian Buddhist Society
Before politics, he ran a busy legal practice, combining this with a position as broadcaster and producer with SBS Khmer Radio.
He got into politics as a local councillor and then as mayor of Greater Dandenong in 2016.
In his first speech in Parliament, he said: "I'll never forget where I come from and neither will I forget the gift and opportunity given to me by this wonderful country."
Well-wishers gathered to greet him as he arrived at Bonnyrigg, among them an old friend and colleague, Sabouphary Tuy, who was his counterpart at SBS Khmer Radio in Sydney.
After speaking to the group, Heang Tak was introduced to the abbot and monks at WatKhemarangsaram and met members of the Cambodian Buddhist Society over lunch. The society's president, ThinEm, said: "He's an inspiration for us and a role model for the younger generation."
A meeting followed with the committee of the Khmer community, keen to hear his views not only on common issues of settlement but also on the struggle for democracy and human rights in Cambodia.
I'll never forget where I come from nor will I forget the gift and opportunity given to me by this wonderful country.
MENG HEANG TAK
Clarinda MP, Victoria
Sorn Yin, president of the Khmer Community of NSW, said: "We enjoyed meeting and will keep up contact."
The new committee of the Khmer community held a fundraiser at Wat Khemarangsaram on June 1. "We're rebuilding our community," Sorn said. "We have so many plans but we must make sure our community operates on a firm financial basis."
Monks from Cambodian temples at CanleyVale, Cabramatta and Rossmore joined the monks at Bonnyrigg to chant Buddhist scriptures to bless the event.