Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday promised to maintain peace along the Kingdom’s borders and ensure prosperous development as he delivered a speech marking the tenth anniversary of Preah Vihear temple’s heritage listing.
Speaking to members of the armed forces, public figures and students at Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh to celebrate Preah Vihear’s listing as a Unesco World Heritage site, Mr Hun Sen said that border patrol police will cooperate with neighbouring countries to create “peace, friendship and development”.
Preah Vihear, a Hindu temple, is situated on the top of a 525- meter cliff in the Dangrek Mountains, bordering Thailand.
The temple had been a flashpoint of armed clashes between Cambodian and Thai troops between 2008 and 2011 since Thailand claimed ownership of 4.6 square kilometres of land next to the temple.
The International Court of Justice ruled in November 2013 that Cambodia had sovereignty over the whole territory of the promontory of Preah Vihear temple, and ordered Thailand to withdraw its armed forces from that territory.
Dozens of soldiers and civilians were reportedly killed in the fighting in 2011.
Mr Hun Sen noted yesterday that the history of the country has taken a turn for the better in terms of development and cooperation.
“I have already mentioned this before – to turn all former battlefields into market sites and developed areas,” Mr Hun Sen said. “Now the Cambodian people can see that areas once used to fight are now developing across the country.”
Mr Hun Sen also said that the public should maintain and protect the temples, and noted that trade between Thailand and Cambodia is now worth $6 billion.
Hem Monika, a 19-year-old university student in Phnom Penh who attended the celebration, said she’s happy that Khmer temples are listed as World Heritage sites.
“As a Cambodian citizen, I am happy that Preah Vihear temple was listed as a World Heritage site,” she said.
The message of culture and diversity also resonated with government officials who attended the event.
“There are some foreign cultures flowing inward, but it depends on ourselves to love our own culture,” said Heng La Dan, an officer at the Ministry of Culture. “Our ancestors kept many of our past achievements, including the Preah Vihear temple. We are the Kingdom of Wonder to the world.”