Editorial | Articles about Cambodia | Khmer

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

3 More Sites on World Heritage List

3 More Sites on World Heritage List

QUEBEC CITY, July 7--A Hindu temple in Cambodia, historic Malaysian towns and an agricultural site from Papua New Guinea were added to UNESCO's World Heritage List on Monday.

Honored were the 11th century Preah Vihear temple site, perched on a mountaintop on the Thai-Cambodia border, the cities of the Straits of Malacca, Melaka and George Town in Malaysia, and the Kuk Early Agricultural Site in Papua New Guinea, marking the country's first entry on the list.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee has been meeting in this oldest of Canadian cities from July 2-10 to consider adding to its coveted list of protected architectural and natural wonders. A total of 45 new sites are vying for inclusion on this list this year, but few more controversial than the Preah Vihear temple.

Last week, Cambodia deployed riot police to protect the Thai embassy for fear that a border dispute over the temple could spark violent protests.

The move came after Thailand suspended its endorsement of Cambodia's bid for the UN cultural agency UNESCO to grant the long-disputed Preah Vihear temple World Heritage status.

Security forces were also mobilized to protect Thai-owned businesses in the capital Phnom Penh.

In 1962, the dispute over the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple went before the World Court, which ruled that the temple belonged to Cambodia, although the main entrance lies at the foot of a mountain in Thailand.

The long-standing row appeared resolved last month, after Thailand endorsed Cambodia's plan to seek World Heritage status at a UNESCO meeting in Canada this week.

But the deal sparked a political controversy in Thailand, and last week Cambodia closed the mountaintop temple after more than 100 Thais marched to the compound to protest the deal.

A Thai court then forced the government to suspend its endorsement of the plan.

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