The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, together with the Apsara National Authority (ANA) and relevant institutions, has received information about a replica Angkor Wat being constructed in Thailand’s Buriram province and will conduct a thorough investigation into the matter.
The announcement came after the public expressed shock at a Facebook post about construction of the replica. Its foundations were laid in April and construction is expected to be completed in the next seven to eight years.
Culture ministry spokesman Long Ponna Sirivath told The Post on July 6 that after receiving the news, the ministry instructed relevant authorities and the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok to investigate the case and collect information immediately.
“First, we will let the ANA’s team conduct specific research into whether the construction is really a copy of Angkor Wat. Second, we will contact our embassy in Thailand so officials can visit the site and determine exactly what the project looks like,” he said.
He pointed out that if the research indicates that the temple is an exact replica of Angkor Wat, a World Heritage Site, Cambodia will send its ambassador to intervene in this case.
“Normally, we use a diplomatic approach. So, the Cambodian government can send an official letter to its Thai counterpart to suspend the project.
“In this case, what initial information we have is that Thailand did not ask for permission to construct a replica. We only know that Thailand is building a temple that follows a similar design to Angkor Wat,” he said.
Ponna Sirivath added that according to the preliminary information, the structure the Thais are building is a Buddhist centre, but the ministry will need to monitor the situation further.
ANA spokesman Long Kosal said the team was working with relevant parties to determine what is happening, but he did not have any details yet.
“Once we get detailed information, we will let you know. But that does not mean we are indifferent. I just want to inform you that we have gathered some information and the construction project is not the same as Angkor Wat temple,” he said.
Citing archaeologists, the Facebook page in question claimed that Thailand will soon construct the Angkor Wat replica at the famous Thai temple of Wat Phuman Pha after successfully building the top three temples in the Khmer style. The next step is the construction of the second Angkor Wat, the largest replica of the temple in the world.
“The project to build the second Angkor Wat temple – which the Thais call Sihanakor – had a ground-breaking ceremony on April 5 this year,” it said.