Damage to a Buddha statue at a Siem Reap province temple and several other instances of destruction and loss of historic property led the Cambodia Tourist Guide Association to file letters requesting heightened security at the ruins in Siem Reap.
The letters to APSARA Authority and heritage police were sent three days after a New Zealand national allegedly broke the statue at Bayon temple last week. They also reference lost monkey statues at Banteay Srey temple and statue decapitation at Ta Prohm temple, said Khiev Thy, the association’s director.
“Recently, there have been cases of statues being lost [and broken] at temples in tourist areas of Siem Reap,” Thy said. “No suspects have been caught; it affects our cultural heritage.”
The recently broken statue was a 26-year-old replica of one that was destroyed during decades of civil unrest.
In addition to the broken Buddha statue at Bayon temple, a South Korean travelling in a tourist group knocked over a replica statue there while posing for a picture in August.
A statement released by the APSARA Authority after the suspected vandalism last week says that they are only responsible for security between 5:30am and 5:30pm, but the woman suspected of breaking the statue was at the temple after it closed.
Despite anger over tourist behaviour, the statue is nearly repaired, Apsara Authority spokesman Im Sokrith said.
“The reparation of the Buddha statue is nearly finished and ready to be put in its original place at which people at the temple can pray,” Sokrith said.