>Victorious delegation returns home

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Cambodians celebrate the decision made for Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site during a rally Monday, July 14, 2008 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Cambodian government organized another mass rally Monday to celebrate the recent listing of the country’s 11th century Hindu temple as a world cultural landmark. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

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Touch Yuthea

(Further reporting by Neth Pheaktra)
The Mekong Times

“Celebrating the ceremony at Olympic Stadium is aimed at confusing the public to obtain political gain during the upcoming elections. As far as the temple is concerned, H.E Sok An should again look at the documents he previously took to Thailand. Thailand has now announced it will claim the territory around the temple as Sok An’s drawn map involves only the body of the temple” – SRP MP Son Chhay

A party held at Olympic Stadium to welcome the arrival of the Cambodian officials, was broadcast live by Bayon TV station. Sok An said that the World Heritage Committee, consisting of 21 member countries representing 185 signatories to the Convention on World Heritage, unanimously backed Cambodia’s inscription of the ancient temple on the World Heritage List. Citing the importance of the listing, he claimed, “Registration of the temple as a World Heritage Site signifies that the temple belongs to Cambodia.”

Sok An described the negotiation strategies used with UNESCO and Thailand to reach the decision for listing of the temple. Sok An cited Thais’ past protest against the listing of Preah Vihear Temple as the World Heritage Site based on three points: the border issue, joint listing of Preah Vihear Temple and a lake in Thailand, Cambodia’s proposal to register Preah Vihear temple without discussion with Thailand.

The mentioning of border issues is not true as Cambodia used the map determined by the International Court of Justice in The Hague.” Concerning Thailand’s request to jointly list the temple, he said Cambodia declined the request due to the fact that the temple belongs to Cambodia. He said that if Cambodia had agreed with Thailand’s request to register Preah Vihear temple and a lake in Thailand as a World Heritage Site, “it would have lost 50 percent of its sovereignty and other interests.”

Before listing Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site, Cambodia had responded to three requirements of the World Heritage Committee – improve the maintenance of Preah Vihear Temple; prepare regular reports to plan for managing the temple; and cooperate with Thailand.

A delighted Sok An said the listing of the temple as a World Heritage Site is one of the great achievements of the third-mandate government whose term is coming to an end. “We must remember the victory of the government as well as of the CPP,” he underlined, adding, “There are many more tasks and achievements we need to complete in the future. Voting for CPP means voting for Samdech Hun Sen as the future Prime Minister, who will complete those tasks.”

The celebration ceremony at Olympic Stadium is nothing special as Preah Vihear temple has been Cambodia’s property since 1962 under the crusade of former King Norodom Sihanouk,” said Rong Chhun, president of Cambodia Watchdog Council. “The celebration is simply being used for political gain, which only confuses voters before election day,” he added.

Son Chhay, Sam Rainsy Party spokesman said: “Celebrating the ceremony at Olympic Stadium is aimed at confusing the public to obtain political gain during the upcoming elections. As far as the temple is concerned, H.E Sok An should again look at the documents he previously took to Thailand. Thailand has now announced it will claim the territory around the temple as Sok An’s drawn map involves only the body of the temple.” The Cambodian government has claimed that listing the temple as a World Heritage Site will not relinquish Cambodian territory.

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