The demolition of a temple in Kampong Thom province sparked criticism on social media over the weekend, prompting the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts to review the case and consider taking legal action.
Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith took to Facebook to note that the temple had been built in 1948 on the grounds of the Indry Singvarak pagoda, and claimed the temple was recognised as a national heritage monument in 2007, but that the “monks of the pagoda decided to demolish it without regret”.
Culture Minister Phoeurng Sackona, responding to the post, said her ministry was reviewing the case with the Ministry of Cults and Religion. Sackona didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Article 69 of the Constitution says that “the state has the obligation to preserve and protect” historical sites, and says those who breach the clause should be “severely punished”.
Provincial Governor Sok Luo said chief monk Seang Sok did not request permission to demolish the temple. He said Sok on July 19 had begun to tear down the roof of the temple to repair it, but instead brought down the entire structure.
However, Sok disputed the claim that he didn’t have permission to demolish the temple and that it was recognised as a national heritage monument.
“Before demolishing the old temple, I and the pagoda committee and some local authorities . . . had agreed,” he said.
Culture Ministry spokesman Thai Norak Sathya, who was quoted in reports saying the ministry would take legal action, declined to comment.