Seven Wonders Competition ‘Unjust,’ Say Officials

Angkor Wat’s failure to garner enough telephone and Internet votes to rank as one of the so-called new seven wonders of the world drew heated responses from government officials on Monday, who claimed the contest was illegitimate and unjust.

The New7Wonders Foundation declared the Great Wall of China, the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, Brazil’s Statue of Christ the Redeemer, Peru’s Machu Picchu, the Maya ruins of Chichen Itza in Mexico, the Colosseum in Rome and India’s Taj Mahal as the new seven wonders at a ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal on Saturday.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Cambodia’s comparatively small population and limited Internet access put it at an extremely unequal footing in terms of voting compared to countries like India and China.

“It was an injustice for Cambodian people because the decision for the temple was made by voting on the Internet,” he said, adding that ministries who got involved in the contest should not participate in future contests if they are to be conducted on the Internet. “This type of competition discourages Cambodians and des­troys our ancestors’ achievements,” he said.

Him Chhem, secretary of state for the Culture Ministry, said the new wonders had little legitimacy. “This is just a private company that organized this vote,” he said. “We don’t care about this.”

The New7Wonders Foundation describes itself as a non-governmental, non-profit organization similar to the International Red Cross.

Siem Reap Governor Sou Phirin on Monday referred questions about the contest to Tourism Minister Thong Khon and Culture Ministry Secretary of State Chuch Phoeurn, who he said attended the awards ceremony in Portugal. Thong Khon said that he could not comment because he was in France, while Chuch Phoeurn could not be contacted.

In December, the Apsara Auth­ority, which manages Angkor, ap­pealed to the public to vote online in support of the temple. A staffer for Apsara Authority said Monday that Long Kosal, chief of the authority’s public relations bureau, could not speak to a reporter because he had not returned from Lisbon.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recently distanced itself from the vote saying that the “‘7 New Wonders of the World’ will be the result of a private undertaking, reflecting only the opinions of those with access to the internet and not the entire world.”



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