Worry Over Thai Ill Will Stops Gift of Statues in O Meanchey

Oddar Meanchey provincial authorities last week prevented Beehive radio station Director Mam Sonando from donating 13 Buddhist statues to a pagoda in Banteay Ampil district, near the disputed area around Ta Moan temple on the border with Thailand, claiming it could stoke tensions in the area, officials said yesterday.

Provincial Governor Pich Sokhin said authorities refused to allow Mr Sonando to deliver the statues to Chup Kaki pagoda in Ampil commune because he had not filled in the required paperwork. He added that the donation could exacerbate tensions between Thai and Cam­bodian troops stationed in the area.

“It is close to the border with Thailand and if they march with the statues to the pagoda, the crowd could cause the Thai troops in the area to prepare for tension or conflict,” Mr Sokhin said, referring to Mr Sonando’s planned march from Phnom Penh to Chup Kaki pagoda, which is situated on a mountain overlooking the border.

Him Thoeur, director of the Oddar Meanchey provincial department of religion, said that after traffic officials stopped a truck carrying a large, seated Buddha and 12 small statues headed for Chup Kaki pagoda, the authorities informed Mr Sonando on Nov 9 that he should discontinue his planned donation.

“We stopped these statues and temporarily keep them in Ampil commune and when the situation [along the border] is stable we will let them take it to the pagoda,” he said.

Mr Sonando, founder of Beehive Radio, which is affiliated with political opposition parties, said he was upset with the authorities’ actions and did not understand why they would prevent him from donating statues to the pagoda.

“I agree with them checking it, but not stopping it, I want to deliver it to the monks in the pagoda,” Mr Sonando said on the telephone from Pursat town, where his march of around 40 people had stalled.

Beehive Radio information officer Soy Sothea said: “The authorities have stopped us for eight days now and order us to complete the paperwork,” adding that so far authorities had not provided the group with the forms they were required to fill in as they were “still negotiating to get the forms.”

 

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