RCAF officials in Preah Vihear province have unveiled a statue of a legendary Khmer military figure in Chaom Ksan district drawing criticism from the Thai military, military officials said yesterday.
Major General Srey Dek, 3rd Division commander, said that the warrior known as General Ta Om was well known for defending Cambodia against Thai forces in the vicinity of Preah Vihear temple, though he did not know any historical details concerning the military commander.
The statue of Ta Om on horseback was officially unveiled during a ceremony attended by provincial RCAF officials about 10 kilometers from the 11th century temple on Friday, he said.
During Friday’s ceremony Thai military officials complained that the statue was positioned on disputed land, Maj Gen Dek said.
“He is a famous…commander and RCAF has built this statue on the Cambodian side of the border,” Maj Gen Dek said, adding that the statue “should not provoke anger from the from the Thais.”
A picture of the statue that appeared in the Khmer language press yesterday showed Ta Om sitting proudly on horseback holding a long spear and shield pointing in the direction of Thailand.
Deputy RCAF Commander-in-Chief Chea Dara also confirmed that Thai military commanders had complained that the statue was positioned on Thai soil, but the figure will not be moved.
“Thailand usually complains,” Gen Dara said. “We have the right to do what we want in our country,” he added.
Gen Dara also said that he did not know when Ta Om had lived, nor did he know what he had accomplished during his military campaigns.
Defense Ministry Spokesman Chhum Sucheat and Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said they were unaware that the statue had been built and also the historical significance of Ta Om.
Thailand government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn could not be reached for comment yesterday.