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Hun Sen Statue Removed After Dust-Up

A senior government adviser removed a statue of Prime Minister Hun Sen from the Anti-Corruption Institute Friday following strong criticism by the premier’s cabinet chief.

The cabinet chief, Ho Sithy, told VOA Khmer Friday the statue ran counter to Cambodian culture, where general practice is to honor the dead, not the living, with statuary.

The adviser, Om Yentieng, who is also head of the nascent Anti-Corruption Unit, said in a statement Friday he had the statue erected “without prior permission and by my own decision.”

“I completely removed a statue of the prime minister, Hun Sen, from display at the Anti-Corruption Institute,” Om Yentieng said. “I would like make a public apology and would like Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen to pardon me favorably.”

Meach Pon, an adviser for Khmer traditions at the Buddhism Institute said that typically statues are erected for Cambodian heroes, like Lady Penh, the woman of legend from whom the capital draws its name, and others.

Ho Sithy said Friday he wanted “all state institutions and the public to stop displaying or selling statues of top Cambodian leaders from now on.”