Temple-Goers to Appeal to PM Over Statue Spat

Worshippers at a Vietnamese temple in Phnom Penh said they would appeal to Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow them to keep a statue of their faith’s founder after a meeting with City Hall failed to resolve a dispute over its removal.

The statue of Ho Phap Pham Cong Tac, who played a central role in establishing the Cao Dai monotheistic religion in southern Vietnam in 1926, was installed in a stupa above his grave at the Chamkar Mon district temple in late 2015.

Conflict between the congregation and temple leaders erupted after its arrival, and City Hall last month responded to a complaint from leaders by demanding its removal by January 14.

After resistance from the community, however, religious leaders from Vietnam were invited to “explain to their followers” that idolism was against the religion, said municipal cults and religion director Phon Davy.

According to statue supporter Chea Lay, however, the temple leaders opposed the statue only because it thwarted their plans to sell the temple land.

“I will write a letter to Samdech Hun Sen to intervene so it won’t be removed,” he said.

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