Fury over Angkor Wat 'copy'

Fury over Angkor Wat 'copy'

An aerial shot of the Sihanakhon complex under construction at Wat Phu Man Fah in Nang Rong district of Buri Ram. (Photo: Surachai Piraksa)
An aerial shot of the Sihanakhon complex under construction at Wat Phu Man Fah in Nang Rong district of Buri Ram. (Photo: Surachai Piraksa)

Cambodia is planning to send its officials to inspect a controversial new temple complex in Buri Ram, which is said to copy the country's famed Angkor Wat ruins, an official said yesterday.

Culture Technique Department director, Hab Touch, said a team of archaeologists and architects from Cambodia's Ministry of Culture will be sent to Wat Phu Man Fah to inspect the Sihanakhon complex, the Khmer Times reported yesterday.

"We are unsure of when we can go because of the Covid-19 pandemic and quarantine situation, which makes things difficult," Mr Hab Touch said.

The official did not say what action Phnom Penh would take if the team concludes that the chedi is indeed an exact copy of its original structure, located within the ancient Angkor Wat complex.

The temple, in Buri Ram's Nang Rong district, was built to attract tourists and worshippers to the area.

Cambodian netizens reacted angrily when photos of the temple went viral on social media in July. Many demanded Phnom Penh take action, with hashtags such as #SaveAngkorWat and #AngkorWatBelongToKhmers trending on Twitter for some time.

Since the photos went viral, the temple's abbot, Somsak Sungwarajitto, has denied the temple was designed as a replica of Angkor Wat.

Buri Ram's culture office chief, Khattiya Chaimanee, also defended the site, saying the temple's design and layout is an amalgamation of several famous Buddhist sites.

But Cambodia's History Department director, Vong Sotheara, told the Khmer Times that after checking the plan and layout, he did not agree with their explanation. "Cambodia should keep an eye on this project," said the official, who is also a professor at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

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