Obviously, the following article is related to cultural diversity. I found this piece particularly interesting, because it clearly shows that the Cambodian state takes an active interest in the reproduction of a particular cultural and religous Khmer culture and identity.
P Penh enforces ban on Thai-style Buddha statues
Published on Feb 28, 2004
Thousands of Thai-style Buddha statues will be removed from Cambodian pagodas because they distort Khmer Buddhism and present a threat of outside influence, religion officials said in a report yesterday.
Thai Buddha images have been banned in neighbouring Cambodia since 2002, but several statues donated by Thailand have made their way into Khmer pagodas and temples in what is being seen as a challenge to Cambodia’s religious identity, the Cambodia Daily reported.
“We are worried for the future of our religion,” Chao Sikano, chief of the religion department in Banteay Meanchey province bordering Thailand, told the paper, adding that 410 Thai-style Buddha statues were on display in pagodas there.
“We will have a crisis for the next generation” if the issue is not addressed, he said in the English language daily.
“The Thais have a long-term strategy to invade our culture and religion,” he added.
The Thai statues are different from their Khmer counterparts in that they have longer noses, more feminine hands and a different figure, the paper said.
Thai script is written on the back, and Chao Sikano said portraits of the Thai king are embedded inside the statues.
Uong Sophearith, of Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs, said the statues, collected mainly near the Thai border, will be moved to an as yet undetermined central storage facility.
He said the religion ministry would coordinate with those of interior, border soldiers and police to enforce the ban.
Thailand and Cambodia have had historically testy ties, with various Khmer and Thai kingdoms battling each other for cultural and political supremacy over the centuries.
Meanwhile Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Sihasak Phuangketkeow said Cambodia had the right to act because of the country’s law prohibiting the import of Thai-style Buddha statues.
Thailand is nevertheless worried with the ban in Cambodia, he said, because religion should strengthen relations between both countries.