Culture minister ‘deeply regrets’ razing of Wat Ounalom buildings

Chhort Bunthang, Cultural Relations, Tourism and Education research officer at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the dismantling of these buildings amounted to the destruction of the identity and national culture and those behind it should be held accountable before the law.

“I’m very regretful to learn that these three antique houses for Buddhist monks on the compound of Wat Ounalom were dismantled to build a stupa.

“I believe that this could only have happened with the permission of the senior leadership there. But it is not correct without first receiving permission from the culture ministry because these lodgings for Buddhist monks were placed on the list of national cultural heritage for preservation,” he said.

Bunthang continued that if necessary, each pagoda should build one or two stupas for storing the ashes of important or wealthy people or senior civil servants so that the pagoda will have enough space for its main religious ceremonies, but the building of private stupas should be ceased as a practice.

Located on Sisowath Quay near the Royal Palace, Wat Ounalom was first established in 1443 and has several dozen structures on its compound, some of them centuries old. It is one of Phnom Penh’s most important historical sites and considered to be one of the most important cultural sites in the Kingdom and central to Cambodian Buddhism.

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