Speaking at the inauguration of a statue to honor Grandmother Penh, on whose legend the name of the capital rides, King Sihamoni said national unity, helped by citizens of Phnom Penh, was the key to raising Cambodia out of poverty.
The statue, he said, was a testament to the capital.
Phnom Penh was established as the capital of Cambodia relatively recently, but it has been central to the country’s economy and politics for nearly 600 years. It was established along with five pagodas after 1422, when King Ponhea Yat abandoned Angkor to the jungle.
Many tourists these days opt out of seeing Phnom Penh altogether, focusing instead on the rediscovered ancient capital and the temples of Angkor.
Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema told VOA Khmer Friday he hoped the statue would help tourists reconsider.
Meanwhile, Meach Ponn, an advisor for the Institute of Buddhism, said the municipality should research the stories of other Khmer heroes, such as A Cha and Sva Krala Homkong, to build more statues in the name of Cambodia.