The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts will submit a joint inter-institutional memorandum to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for a diplomatic decision regarding the case of the Le Palais Hotel in Thailand, which replicated Khmer-style temples without permission in its design.
Culture ministry spokesman Long Ponnasirivath told The Post that on Tuesday afternoon, the foreign ministry held an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by culture minister Phoeung Sakona to review the facts and laws related to hotel’s design.
Ponnasirivath said the participants in the meeting included representatives from the tourism, commerce and foreign ministries.
“As a result, the meeting decided to make a joint memorandum . . . for a diplomatic decision based on articles 6 and 10 of the Paris Convention on Protection of industrial property dated March 20, 1883, and other principles related to the preservation of the values of Khmer ancient temples,” Ponnasirivath said.
However, Ponnasirivath said the ministry needed more input from other ministries to review the facts and relevant laws. The memorandum to be submitted to the foreign ministry will be sent in the near future.
Le Palais Hotel, located in Ko Pha-ngan district, in Thailand’s Surat Thani province, opened in 2007. In 2015, the hotel built additions which resemble the Bayon, Banteay Srei and Angkor Wat temples.
Foreign ministry spokesman Koy Kuong told The Post on Thursday that the ministry would carefully consider the case before taking diplomatic action.
“In this case, we want opinions from all relevant ministries on the law. We want to meet the relevant ministries, especially the culture ministry, to prove whether it’s right or wrong, then we will have further consideration,” he said.
On Sunday, the Le Palais Hotel owner issued an open letter apologising for copying parts of the Cambodian temples without prior notice. The letter was issued following a series of criticisms by Cambodian citizens.
In a Facebook post, Royal University of Phnom Penh history professor Vong Sotheara said every nation in modern times protects and enhances their national identity.
Sotheara said Angkor’s temples, among others, are part of the core identity of Cambodia. All Cambodians have come to respect and protect them as a source of national pride and unity, he said. Therefore, when this form of identity is copied for the purpose of doing business, it is an insult to the souls of the Khmer ancestors and the Khmer nation.
“The Thai government should act fairly in this regard if Thailand is truly a civilised country that loves and upholds its national identity. Otherwise, racial conflicts and hatred are very difficult to avoid,” he said.
He said he believes the Thai businessmen who used the models of the temples did not think about or respect Khmer ancestral heritage.