PM Seeks Cultural Heritage Name Compromises

Photo: Kim Makara

PHNOM PENH – Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar jointly apply for UNESCO status for traditional martial arts and new year celebrations since the cultural heritages are very similar.

Such compromises on thorny issues would avoid conflict among the neighboring countries.

Addressing the 25th National Culture Day, Hun Sen said he had discussed the issues with his Laotian and Thai counterparts but not Myanmar’s leader.

The appeal came as Cambodia and Thailand remain deadlocked over their martial art names with Cambodia insisting on including Kun Khmer in the SEA Games while Thailand demands the sport be called Muay Thai.

Laos calls the sport Muay Lao while Myanmar call it Lethwei. Thailand has since announced that it will boycott the event.

Hun Sen said the joint application could be made as in the case of tug of war. Cambodia, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines applied jointly and the sport was inscribed in UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2015.

“Can we find compromise? We can jointly apply for the Intangible Heritage List,” he said, suggesting that the sport could be called by the name where the competition takes place. 

The same goes with New Year which is widely celebrated in the four Southeast Asian mainland countries.

The PM asked Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts to take measure and discuss the issues with the other countries.

Talk could take place through the CLMV (Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar, Vietnam) or the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) mechanisms.

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