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Angkor Wat Sandals Prompt Political Jibes

The emergence in Vietnam of commercial footwear with the picture of Ankor Wat on the padding has sparked a round of political finger-pointing between provincial authorities and the opposition party.

The sandals, which have an outline of Angkor Wat’s famous spires and Khmer writing, appeared at a market in Tain Ninh, Vietnam, across the border from Svay Rieng province, and Cambodian authorities have blamed the opposition Sam Rainsy Party for their production.

“It’s not Vietnam who marketed the shoes, but it’s probably from the opposition or any group who would raise it up in order to...stir up controversy,” said Leuk Chamreoun, deputy chief of the Svay Rieng provincial police.

Sam Rainsy called the allegations “ridiculous.”

“How can the party be so powerful that it reaches Vietnam?” he said. “No one believes this.”

Angkor Wat, a cultural touchstone for many Cambodians, has in the past stirred nationalistic violence.

In 2003, rumors that a Thai actress made disparaging remarks about Angkor Wat sparked citywide riots in Phnom Penh that left the Thai Embassy burned and gutted and Thai businesses looted and destroyed.