A STATUE of the Leper King, or Sdech Kumlung, which was popular among Cambodians who thought that it brought them luck, was removed from the riverside in front of Wat Ounaloum on Monday to make room for construction work.
Phnom Penh authorities said they relocated the statue to Cambodia's ancient capital at Udong Mountain in Kandal province after receiving permission from Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong, the Kingdom's religious leader, and the Ministry of Cults and Religion.
A Japanese-funded drainage project necessitated the statue's removal.
Miech Ponn, adviser to the Customs Commission at the Buddhist Institute, said that many Cambodians believed in the statue's power.
"During the war a man tried to escape from a bomb which killed many people, and he stopped at Sdech Kumlung statue and prayed for safety. He then spread the word about his luck, and people came to pray when they had problems," he said.
A 55-year-old lady, who walked by during the removal of the statue, said that she came almost every festival day to offer fruits and pray for happiness. "I even hired Khmer traditional music to play there," she said. Phon Davy, the director of municipality's Religion Department, said there was no written history about the statue.