Battambang's tourism director lashed out yesterday at unidentified vandals who defaced a statue of Angkorian King Jayavaraman VII located in front of the provincial governor’s residence last week, calling them “stupid” and “crazy”.
Black tears were painted coming from the statue’s eyes and its torso was marked with what appeared to be ribs, producing a weeping, emaciated likeness of the 12th century king. The statue was made just four months ago with funding from Battambang tycoon Doeun Sovann.
Tan Bunroeung, director of Battambang’s tourism department, said yesterday that he was only informed of the bizarre graffiti on Monday. He called the graffiti an affront to “provincial and national pride”, saying it would be removed immediately.
King Jayavaraman VII was a devout Buddhist, credited by Cambodia historian David Chandler with ousting Cham invaders, unifying the Kingdom of Angkor, and constructing the famous Angkor Thom temple near modern-day Siem Reap.
In an interview with The Post yesterday, Royal University history lecturer Sombo Manara, referred to the king as a “model Khmer hero”.
“In my opinion the vandals were saying that people in Cambodia need to learn more about Jayavaraman VII,” he said, adding that his tears could express “worry that Cambodians no longer know about the qualities of good leadership”.
A provincial resident, who wished not to be named, suggested that the perpetrators may have been trying “to tell other people about their suffering”.
Prach Chan, Battambang’s provincial governor and Sar Thet, the provincial police chief, could not be reached for comment.