Angkor-era temple ruins have been partially removed from a hill in Siem Reap town’s Slakram commune to make way for a new construction, officials said yesterday, though the site’s ostensible overseer, the Apsara Authority, yesterday said it was unaware of the particulars of the project.
Nov Savin, a lay clergyman at the Brasat Tramneak pagoda, said construction of a new temple at the site, which would feature a sculpture of a dragon’s head, began over a week ago. “Before we started construction, the Apsara Authority did not say anything. And now I heard that they said we were wrong,” Savin said.
Savin stressed that the remaining ancient stones would be unearthed, collected and brought inside the new temple for people to pay their respects. “I know based on the spiritual belief that the stones were very important to the ancient Cambodians, but we just want to compile those stones and keep them for ceremonies,” he added.
Koy Sen, village chief of Klok Andong in Siem Reap district, said he witnessed many authorities joining a ceremony prior to cement being poured and construction beginning at the site. “The area is in the Apsara protection zone . . . I think the site is good to show our ancient history, but now there are only small stones and the new temple, from the picture, also looks nice,” he said.
Long Kosal, a spokesman for the Apsara Authority – which is tasked with heritage protection – was unable to comment yesterday, saying he did not have enough information about the case. The heritage authority found itself in hot water last month for felling a 100-year-old rosewood tree venerated as a site of worship.