Hun Sen forbids construction of new pagodas inside Angkor Archaeological Park

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The APSARA National Authority, monks and the private sector plant 2,500 trees at Preah Vihear Pram Pi Lveng Pagoda in the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap province on 01 November 2021. ANA

Prime Minister Hun Sen has strictly prohibited the construction of additional pagodas or other religious facilities within the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap province because they will make it difficult to manage and could affect the UNESCO listed World Heritage Site status.

“I call for the prohibition [of building more pagodas in the area], and give an order to the Apsara National Authority and authorities in Siem Reap province to be responsible before the prime minister. The Minister of Culture and Fine Arts is also responsible before the prime minister and before the Royal Government for prohibiting the construction of additional pagodas, whether Buddhist pagodas, temples, mosques or other religious places of worship within the Angkor Archaeological Park,” he said.

The call came on October 1 as he met with nearly 3,000 people who have agreed to move their houses and structures from the Angkor resort area and other areas under the Apsara National Authority to live in the Run Ta Ek eco-village in Banteay Srei district.

Hun Sen stated that he would allow only the existing 35 pagodas that are currently present within the Angkor Archaeological Park, but no additions or expansions should be made – not even stupas or statues – at those pagodas. He said that stupas and cremation ceremonies should only be permitted for long-serving chief monks of those pagodas who pass away.

“I ask that these 35 pagodas not increase their number of stupas, except for chief monks that die there, and do not take outsiders to be buried within the pagodas,” he said, adding that the 35 pagodas would not be demolished.