Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cambodia marks anniversary of temple's world heritage listing

Comment: Thinking outside the box, we absolutely agree that Preah Vihear must belong to Cambodia, Cambodia territory land has to be protected, Cambodian people have to celebrate any meaningful successes regarding pride and heritage of Cambodian nation. But thinking inside the box would offer us different taste. In reality, Preah Vihear will be officially listed by UNESCO or not, this ancient ruin is legally belonging to Cambodia. The decision of the World Court ruled in 1962 legally and internationally claimed the legal ownership of Cambodia over Preah Vihear temple. This is one of the prolific legacies of King Norodom Sihanouk. But what value and pride in this time for Cambodians to celebrate Preah Vihear again with this government's event organizing to diffuse such a doubtful nationalism? Is it just a plan designed by Sok An or CPP government to mobilize nationalism for the benefit of CPP? It is truly showing us that this time, nationalism has been tremendously influenced by the coverage of biased mass media and sponsored by the government. In reality, we don't know much on whow are relevant plans and mechanisms that government has taken steps to handle with the scheme of Preah Vihear temple? More than this, this Preah Vihear scheme has made Cambodian people forget all the controversial border issues with Vietnam. Cambodian people who are living along the border with Vietnam have complained a lot about their farms and lands have been gradually encroached by Vietnam, but TV channels or radios dare not cover about those complains. Local authority has always used their accuses to close those complains. This time is like a popular Khmer proverb says "while Thailand is crazily trying to take the stone from Cambodia, Vietnam is happily taking Cambodia land and enforcing its hegemonic authority over Cambodia". In term of stone, Angkor Wat is controlled by Vietnamese company and guarded by Vietnamese policemen. In term of land, Vietnamese people are allowing to resettle and plant their houses in every spot of Cambodian soil.

Cambodian buddhist monks pray and hold a picture of the Preah Vihear temple

Cambodian students mark the 1st Anniversary of the northern Preah Vihear temple's world heritage listing

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodians on Tuesday noisily celebrated the first anniversary of the UN's world heritage listing of an ancient temple which has stoked nationalist tensions with neighbouring Thailand.

Posters of the 11th century Preah Vihear temple were plastered in pagodas, schools and prominent locations around the capital Phnom Penh while celebrators screamed, "Long Live Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site!"

"As Cambodian people, we are very proud of Preah Vihear temple. We must celebrate this day, it is historic for us," Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema said after a traditional dance ceremony at a pagoda in front of 1,000 people.

Waving colourful Cambodian flags, Buddhist monks, nuns, students and teachers gathered at pagodas and schools nationwide and promptly beat drums and rang bells at 11:00 am (0400 GMT) to herald the listing, officials said.

"I am very happy and proud of Preah Vihear temple. The temple belongs to Cambodia. Thailand has no right to claim it," said student Hang Dalune as at another event as hundreds of people sang and danced to nationalist songs, waving Cambodian flags.

Soldiers, villagers, monks and officials at Preah Vihear also celebrated the listing despite a standoff nearby between Cambodian and Thai troops, Cambodian commanders said.

The neighbouring countries have been at loggerheads over the land around the Preah Vihear temple for decades, but tensions spilled over into violence last July when the temple was granted UN World Heritage status.

Although the World Court ruled in 1962 that it belonged to Cambodia, the most accessible entrance to the ancient Khmer temple with its crumbling stone staircases and elegant carvings is from northeastern Thailand.

Thousands of people were also expected to gather in Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium Tuesday evening for an anniversary ceremony complete with a fireworks display, official speeches and patriotic songs.

Relations between Thailand and Cambodia worsened last month when Bangkok announced it would ask UNESCO to reconsider its decision to list Preah Vihear as a world heritage site, as the surrounding land is still in dispute.

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