By Xia Lin, Long Heng
PHNOM PENH, July 8 (Xinhua) -- Senior government
officials issued statements and citizens took to the streets here Tuesday to
celebrate the decision by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to list the Preah
Vihear Temple as World Heritage Site.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said that "it is a new pride
for the Cambodian people as well as peoples in the world that the Preah Vihear
Temple is recognized as top Khmer architecture and it has a universal values for
The 11th century Preah Vihear temple is seen near the Thai border in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, in this June 21, 2008 file photo. The World Heritage committee meeting in Canada has on June 7, 2008 approved Cambodia's application to list Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
"I would like to express my profound and honest
thanks to all the people at all levels that always supported the government's
work and expressed their understanding and patience to protect the national
interests and make peace with the Thais as good friend and neighboring country,"
The Preah Vihear Temple is the third Khmer heritage
listed as world heritage, after the Angkor Wat Temple in 1992 and the royal
ballet style in 2003, he added.
Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Council
of Ministers, said that the Cambodian-Thai ties won't be affected by the
"Though Cambodia and Thailand may have had some
differences of views regarding the listing of the temple, this issue has not in
any way affected the long-standing ties of friendship and co-operation between
our two kingdoms and peoples," he said.
The Cambodian government has a long-standing position
that "the inscription of the temple will not affect nor prejudice the rights of
Cambodia and Thailand on the demarcation work of the Joint Commission for Land
Boundary of the two countries," he added.
Hor Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of
Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said that "the listing of the
Preah Vihear Temple is the success of civilization and culture for the Khmer
The success didn't break the relationship and
cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand, even as Thailand canceled the joint
communique on the Preah Vihear Temple issues, he said.
Thailand didn't lose a centimeter of land to Cambodia
and Cambodia didn't lose either for listing the Preah Vihear Temple, he said,
adding that both sides have plan to plant demarcation posts in accordance with
the border and geographic lines specified in bilateral treaty.
Meoung Son, president of the Khmer Civilization Fund,
said that he will build a museum at 20,000 U.S. dollars for the Preah
He appealed Thailand to hand over artifacts of the
Preah Vihear Temple to the museum.
"The temple will become a potential tourist
destination," he added.
Meanwhile on Tuesday afternoon, thousands of people
went to the streets of Phnom Penh, danced, sang and waved Cambodian flags,
chanting "Long live Preah Vihear Temple!"
Earlier Tuesday morning in Quebec, Canada, all the 21
members of the World Heritage Committee during its 32nd session unanimously
approved the Cambodian application to list the temple as World Heritage Site.
The site of the building, which lies along the
disputed Thai-Cambodian border, has long been a point of contention between the
two Asian neighbors, Cambodia and Thailand.
Cambodia started seeking the status of World Heritage
Site for the temple in 2001, hoping for influx of tourists and international
funding that normally accompanies the designation.
But Thailand has vetoed its neighbor's submissions
amid fears the status would include disputed land along the border.
In May, Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's
government bypassed the Parliament and endorsed Cambodia's application. Thai
critics have accused him of violating the country's sovereignty, and the
government withdrew its support late last month.
Fortunately for Cambodia, last minute efforts by the
Thai delegation to delay the vote and to have joint management of the temple
failed at Tuesday's session of the World Heritage Committee.
Last week, Cambodia shut up the gate at the temple
after Thais conducted demonstration around. It also deployed police at the Thai
Embassy in Phnom Penh fearing that possible anti-Thai parade there.
Back to 1962, the International Court of Justice awarded the temple and the land it occupies to Cambodia, a decision that therefore rankles Thais.
The 11th century Preah Vihear temple is seen near the Thai border in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, in this June 21, 2008 file photo. The World Heritage committee meeting in Canada has on June 7, 2008 approved Cambodia's application to list Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)