A Cambodian tourism official, upset over a Thai map that locates Preah Vihear temple in Thailand, said Wednesday that he is waiting to hear from the Foreign Ministry whether the government plans to raise the matter with its Thai counterparts.
“Such a map encourages Thais to believe that Cambodia stole the temple,” said Moeung Son, president of the National Association of Tourism Enterprises and the owner of the Eurasie Phnom Penh Travel agency.
“It could cause foreign tourists to misunderstand. Actually, it is our Cambodian temple, and the government should take immediate action,” he said.
The map, printed in Thailand in the Thai and English languages, seems to have been produced by the Thai government, Moeung Son said.
Thai Embassy Second Secretary Songchai Chaipatiyut, however, denied this.
“I have not seen the map yet, but I do not think that it states that Preah Vihear temple is in Thailand. It does not mean that Preah Vihear is located in Thailand,” he said.
He added that there are many private companies in Thailand that produce tourist maps. He also noted that the Thai name for the temple, Phra Viharn, is similar to the Khmer name and could have caused confusion.
Moeung Son provided a copy of the map and said he recently sent a letter to Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on the issue. Khieu Thavika, an undersecretary of state at the ministry, declined to comment on Thursday.
But Long Simon, also an undersecretary of state at the Foreign Ministry, said he believes that the government should take up the issue.
“It is a funny story. It is not correct that the temple should be shown to be in Thailand,” he said.
A 1962 ruling of the International Court of Justice handed Cambodia control of the temple. The ruling ended several years of dispute during which Thai soldiers occupied the temple.
Preah Vihear’s construction began in the 9th century during the Angkorian era, and lasted over 300 years.