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Ministry of Culture Still Monitoring Potential Angkor Wat Replica in Thailand

PHNOM PENH: Drama continues to circulate online regarding Thailand’s new temple complex in Buri Ram, which many say copies Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple.

Secretary of State and spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Sum Map, told EAC News that the ministry is not indifferent to Thailand’s decision to build a temple that so closely duplicates the country’s Khmer architectural style and said that the ministry has been monitoring the situation since construction on the temple began in 2021.

He said, "Since the problem first arose, the Ministry of Culture has never ignored it. We have a diplomatic system, with professional benchmarks to check whether it is a copy or not, and have also sent experts to research the site from the outset. We also have the participation of the Thai said.”

Sum Map detailed the complexity of the situation that involves many players. “We are paying close attention with diplomacy, professional experts and site inspection, in addition to work that closely adheres to the development of the construction, but it is the kind of thing that requires both technical and diplomatic clarity in the solution." He affirmed that Cambodia does not agree with any construction that was copied from Cambodia.

Dr. Chhit Bunthong, Officer of Cultural Relations at the Royal Academy, is not worried about the project, believing that no replica can threaten the worth of the original Angkor Wat, which is a World Heritage Site. "A copy is not equal. First, the handiwork of Cambodian artists, engineers, and architects is different from that of the Thai people. Even if Cambodians collaborate with Thai national, the result will not be the same. Second, it is not historic,” he said. “The origin of precious things are linked to longevity, which is associated with the memories of tens of thousands of tourists."

Angkor Wat was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List on December 14, 1992 at the 16th session of the World Heritage Committee in Santa Fe, USA. The temple was dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu in 1122 AD during the reign of King Suryavarman II. The surrounding temple complex was expanded by his successor, Jayavarman VII who commissioned the construction of Angkor Thom, Bayon and many other famous temples that surround the original.

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