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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Toppled statue back in Bayon

The repaired Buddha statue at Bayon Temple in Siem Reap during a reinauguration ceremony held by the APSARA Authority
The repaired Buddha statue at Bayon Temple in Siem Reap during a reinauguration ceremony held by the APSARA Authority. PHOTO SUPPLIEDhoto Supplied

Toppled statue back in Bayon

The Buddha statue allegedly toppled and broken into four pieces by New Zealand tourist Willemijn Vermaat was reinaugurated in a ceremony at the ancient Bayon temple in Siem Reap yesterday morning.

More than a hundred people attended the three-hour event held by the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (Apsara Authority), which oversees the Angkor Wat complex.

Villagers laid flowers at the foot of the statue as a group of sixteen monks chanted and burned incense.

Ten Apsara officials carried the heavy, 1-metre statue back into the heart of the temple, returning it to its place.

Apsara director Bun Narith said the statue’s sacred powers were “now fully restored”.

The statue, a replica installed in the temple in 1988 after the original was damaged, was repaired on October 15 by Apsara restoration workers.

Narith said Apsara will now crack down on lone temple wanderers.“Even though we have a sign which informs tourists that the temple closes at 5:30pm, our officials at the temple will double-check the enclosures. They have to make sure there are no more tourists in the temple after 5:30pm,” he said.

Vermaat told New Zealand media last week that she was told to leave the premises after staying past the temple’s closing time, but hid in the jungle and snuck back in when the coast was clear.

Vermaat then said she pushed the statue under the orders of a mystical spirit goddess.

Friends of Vermaat, who is now back in New Zealand, expressed concern she was struggling with personal issues.

The Post reported on Wednesday that charges have been filed in Vermaat’s case.

Siem Reap Provincial Court officials confirmed this but declined to elaborate, citing further investigation.

Narith said Apsara had already asked advice from the Council of Jurists at Cambodia’s Council of Ministers on how to proceed with the case.



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