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Buddha statue has to face east, officials say

The Department of Cult and Religion and authorities in Siem Reap have ordered Sou Ching Investment Group to move a Buddha statue following criticism from residents and on social media that the stone deity was inappropriately positioned.

Yesterday, authorities and officials went to the site and found that the statue placed on a dusty sidewalk, was facing west, according to Van Bunna, director of the Department of Cult and Religion in Siem Reap.

“It is not good for praying,” he said, explaining that they then asked the company to rotate the statue to the east, towards the sunrise, which is auspicious in the Buddhist faith.

If the company does not comply, he added, “We will come to move it by ourselves”.

Mot Mular, a provincial council member, said most residents are Buddhist and were “not happy” about the statue.

However, Chum Kim Leng, an abbot in Siem Reap province, said that the eastward facing designation is not written into law, but a preference in the faith, as the direction is tied to the history of the Buddha’s enlightenment.

“There is no law commenting on this,” he said.

“But it affects Buddhist supporters’ beliefs, which is the state religion.”

Representatives of Sou Ching Investment Group could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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