A momentary flash of frustration crept in again today, as it does most days living in this country, when I heard the story of how unlikely it is that the government of Thailand
will hand back 43 ancient Khmer sculptures, weighing more than eight tonnes, that were discovered and seized at a Thai port ten years ago. Since then talks at the highest level have failed to get any of the items returned, even though the Thais have recognised 18 of them as belonging to Cambodia - isn't that big of them. However, they are dragging their feet in returning any items and it looks like just 7, all decapitated heads of statues, will eventually come home. My frustration is borne out of Thailand's and other countries, especially France, that have obviously acquired Khmer antiques but refuse point blank to co-operate with the Cambodian authorities and return the artefacts to their rightful home. I also read in an interview with Michel Tranet
in Wednesday's Phnom Penh Post about countries who've rented antiquities for exhibitions but have not bothered to send them back, whilst France had some items for restoration before the civil war and have kept hold of them. How crazy is that. In fact, Tranet, a former Secretary of State at the Culture Ministry in the 1990's, allegedly resigned because the government was more involved in abetting smugglers than stopping them. He is quite damning in the interview about his former paymasters, accusing them of corruption and complicity in trafficking antiques, even using an example of foreign diplomats using their immunity to sneak items out of the country to show how widespread the problem is. He's currently setting up a museum in his own house, to show off some 400+ items he's managed to preserve and retain in the country, finding many of them at places like the Russian Market.
However my frustration turned into a smile when I read the following headline on the same page as the Michel Tranet interview - Good Shag Kills Boyfriend
- which related the story of a 39 year old man, with a history of high blood pressure, who passed away after twice having sex with his girlfriend. At least he died with a smile on his face.
Labels: Michel Tranet