The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in collaboration with the Apsara National Authority (ANA) – a body tasked with managing the Angkor Archaeological Park – organised a tree-planting ceremony and bicycling event at the Angkor resort to celebrate Siem Reap town being selected as the ASEAN City of Culture for 2021-2022.

The tree planting ceremony and cycling event was held in the Angkor resort area on October 11, with the participation of Sum Map, secretary of state at the culture ministry, along with Siem Reap provincial deputy governor You Sophea.

Also in attendance was ANA director-general Hang Pov along with some international embassy representatives as well.

Pov said that the event was organised to showcase some of the leisure activities and scenic locations in the area to other ASEAN members on behalf of Cambodia as the chair of ASEAN and the ASEAN cultural exchange for the upcoming year.

“We are preparing for the role we will play when we take over the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN, so today the culture ministry has organized a tree planting ceremony and a cycling event to show off Siem Reap as the ASEAN city of culture, he said.

He said that as the ASEAN chair rotates every two years, each country assuming that leadership role is given the opportunity to select one of their cities as the ASEAN City of Culture and Cambodia naturally chose Siem Reap because it is the gathering place and epicentre of ancient Khmer culture.

“Siem Reap being the nearest modern city to Angkor Wat, the former capital of the Khmer empire was our natural choice for this honour, he said.

Pov said that normally as the rotating chair we would be inviting ASEAN member delegations to visit Cambodia, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic some of the usual aspects of the programmes were temporarily suspended.

“Normally, if there was no Covid-19 outbreak, each country would invite ASEAN parties to visit their chosen ASEAN city of culture to hold all sorts of demonstrations and activities and promote cooperation between our countries.

“But Covid-19 remains an issue that makes it impossible for us to hold the usual activities or gatherings but todays ceremony is outdoors and was organized by the culture ministry as an alternative celebration of Siem Reap as the ASEAN city of culture for now, he said.

Past ASEAN city of culture selections include: Cebu the Philippines, Singapore City Singapore State, Hue City Vietnam, Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei and Yogyakarta Indonesia.