The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has ordered the country’s highest monk to halt the demolition of three ancient structures at Wat Ounalom after mounting complaints on social media.
On November 8, the Ministry issued a statement to the Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia to stop demolishing three national heritage monk residence at Wat Ounalom, Phnom Penh’s most important pagoda. This came after officials and the public reported last week that the three ancient shrines, known as monk residence number 43, 44 and 45 which date back to the 1930s, were being razed.
After hearing the news, the Ministry said it felt regret because it considers these pavilions to be a national heritage and they were registered on the list of the Department of Culture and Fine Arts in Phnom Penh in 2017.
The demolition has also received huge criticism on social media.
“On behalf of the Ministry as the civil servants of the Royal Government, which has the role and duties in the management and protection of the national cultural heritage, the Ministry would like to confirm that the activities of the demolition and demolition of the old pavilion without study, consultation and permission from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts,” the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts said in the statement.
“This is against the law and the Royal Government's circular, which is a legal document attached to it, which indicates that any renovation of a church or heritage building requires permission from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, a specialized ministry.”
The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts urged Tep Vong, the Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia and leader of Buddhism in Cambodia, to halt any further demolition.
Long Bunnasirivath, spokesman of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, told Kiripost on Monday the reason that the Ministry issued the statement is to protect and preserve the heritage buildings by halting the demolition.
“We want to have more discussions in advance before demolishing [the heritage buildings] and the owner of the property of pagodas, such as the pagoda committee and the Ministry of Cult and Religions, should take control over it,” he said.
From the day the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts issued the statement until now, the spokesman said he is still not clear about the current development as the Ministry is yet to receive a response from Tep Vong.
Kiripost was unable to reach Seng Somony, spokesman of the Ministry of Cults and Religions, for comment on Monday.