SIEM REAP PROVINCE
TWO foreigners who earlier this week were accused of placing a sticker depicting Angkor Wat on the floor near a hotel lavatory in Siem Reap were given their passports back Tuesday after they delivered a public apology.
On Monday, provincial deputy Governor Bun Tharith ordered the questioning of Filipino Jose Jaime Dela Fuente and Malaysian Cheah Beng Lin after receiving word that a sticker bearing an image of the temple had been posted near a restroom at the Sofitel Royal Angkor Hotel.
Their passports were confiscated after the questioning concluded.
The sticker, which featured a stylised image of the temple and the words “Siem Reap 2010: Breaking Boundaries”, was apparently part of the promotional material produced by OMG Advertising, which hosted a conference at the hotel this week.
At a news conference Tuesday evening, Dela Fuente expressed his remorse on behalf of the company.
“It was an honest mistake, and it definitely will not happen again,” he said. “We were not aware of the sensitivities of the use of the Angkor image, and there was no intention to disrespect your country and the Khmer culture. On the contrary, we would like [officials] to know that we truly admire the beauty of Cambodia, which is the very reason why our company chose Siem Reap as our conference venue.”
Heng Pheng, deputy prosecutor at Siem Reap provincial court, said the passports had been returned on Tuesday night. “It is an administrative warning,” he said. “We required them to publicly apologise because Angkor Wat is the World Heritage site.”
Bun Tharith said officials had merely wanted to hold onto the passports until the investigation was completed.
Charles-Henri Chevet, the hotel’s general manager, described the incident as regrettable.
“Is it the first time those clients came to Cambodia, and they definitely did not know. That is why the case happened,” he said.