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Saving ancient stone – restoration of the Angkor heritage sites

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Saving ancient stone – restoration of the Angkor heritage sites | The Thaiger

by China Daily – Asia News Network

August is probably not the best time for tourists to travel to Angkor Was (Angkor Archaeological Park) in northern Cambodia – the rainy season brings particularly muggy conditions.

But for Yuan Mengxi, an assistant researcher at the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage, her trip last month was perhaps one of her most exciting although she had been there more than 10 times.

Restoration of Ta Keo, a temple at the site built in the 10th and 11th centuries, has been completed.

“The work has been long and tough,” Yuan said.

“But it is meaningful when you see locals, including the elderly and children, continuing to worship deities at the shrines.”

The park houses the major tourist attraction of Angkor Wat and welcomes visitors from around the world.

But when the Angkor complex was entered onto the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1992, it was also labeled as being “in danger” due to unstable foundational architecture and severe damage caused over time by warfare. Many parts of the temples there have collapsed, and refurbishing foundations posed potential hazards to workers.

As a result, the International Coordination Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor, also known as ICC-Angkor, was organised in 1993 under the UNESCO framework. China is one of the members of this committee.

Yuan visited Ta Keo to inspect the restoration work, which the academy started in 2010.

“Maybe it’s our best way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of ICC-Angkor and the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Cambodia,” she said.

Construction of Ta Keo as a “state temple” began during the reign of Jayavarman V, a ruler during the Khmer Empire (802-1431). Covering 46,000 square meters, the site is generally considered one of the most magnificent temple-mountains in Angkor.

The term temple-mountain refers to the style for the construction of state temples during the Khmer Empire, which was influenced by Indian temple architecture.

“It’s important evidence showing the transition of architectural styles from the early-stage Angkor sites with typical Hindu characters from India to the later ones featuring local Buddhism,” Yuan said.

Ta Keo is also believed to be the first temple built entirely from sandstone in the Khmer Empire. However, when the academy started restoration work, experts had to sift through tens of thousands of fallen stones and largely collapsed halls, corridors and turrets.

“We had to find the right stones in the rubble and put them back,” Yuan said.

“Everything has to be concise. But restoration is far more than putting the fallen stones back. The bulk of the work is done through detailed research before the engineers start.”

Saving ancient stone - restoration of the Angkor heritage sites | News by The Thaiger

Chinese specialists help renovate Ta Keo Temple at the Angkor complex in Cambodia in July. [Photo by Mao Pengfei / Xinhua]

STORY: The Nation



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Southeast Asia

FOUND: Cockpit Voice Recorder from crashed Lion Air flight

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FOUND: Cockpit Voice Recorder from crashed Lion Air flight | The Thaiger

PHOTO: A Boeing 737 MAX, identical to the crashed jet

“It’s broken into two pieces so hopefully it’s still useful.”

Just as hopes of finding the second black box of the crashed Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX began to fade, investigators say they finally found the voice cockpit recorder (CVR) of the doomed flight. Data retrieved from the device could help determine whether pilot error or specific issues with the MAX 8 contributed most to the October 2018 crash.

The discovery is a critical part of the puzzle to explain how a brand new Boeing 737 MAX fell out of the sky just after take-off.

The plane vanished from radar 13 minutes after take off, slamming into the Java Sea moments after pilots had requested to return to the airport, killing all 189 people onboard.

The bright orange cockpit voice recorder was discovered early yesterday in the mud about 10 metres from where search and rescue teams found the flight data recorder in November.

Haryo Satmiko, deputy head of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee was hoping the device would still be useful in uncovering important evidence.

“It’s broken into two pieces so hopefully it’s still useful.”

“This will really help the investigation and could give some more answers on the causeof the crash.”

The flight data recorder supplies information about the its speed, altitude and direction. The Cockpit Voice Recorder actually records the conversations and communication of the pilots.

A preliminary report on the crash speculates that the pilots of the new Boeing 737 struggled to control the plane’s anti-stall system just before the accident. The report was also critical of Lion Air Indonesia for not grounding the plane before the fateful flight as four previous flights had reported issues with the automated anti-stall system.

FOUND: Cockpit Voice Recorder from crashed Lion Air flight | News by The Thaiger

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Cambodian diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled

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Cambodian diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled | The Thaiger

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Cambodia is moving to annul diplomatic passports issued to people not born in Cambodia. This from the The Phnom Penh Post today.

The report says that analysts believe the move may be in response to Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra using a Cambodian passport to register as a company director in Hong Kong.

The government last week released a letter of instruction on the provision of diplomatic passports to foreigners appointed as advisers and assistants to the political elite and government institutions.

The two-page instruction released last week by PM Hun Sen, which The Post received over the weekend, says some foreigners appointed as advisers and assistants to high-ranking officials and institutions had become naturalised Cambodians and applied for diplomatic passports.

The letter of instruction says in order to prevent such passports being used incorrectly, as stated in a 2008 sub-decree, the government instructs that Cambodian diplomatic passports must not be issued to those who are not Cambodia-born unless it is a “most necessary case”.

“All ministries and institutions have the duty to collect the diplomatic passports that they applied for their advisers and assistants who are not Cambodian by birth, and hand the passports over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation no later than a month from the date of this instruction,” said the letter, which was signed by Cambodian PMHun Sen.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the duty to check and annul diplomatic passports already issued for individuals who are not Cambodian by birth,” the letter states.

It also orders the Ministry of Interior to prevent the use of such passports to enter and depart Cambodia. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ket Sophann told The Post on Sunday that his ministry had requested PM Hun Sen to issue the instruction.

He also declined to comment on what action will be taken should foreigners still use such passports.

The government’s instruction came as Hong Kong-based English language daily South China Morning Post last week reported that Yingluck, the fugitive former Thai PM, had used a Cambodian passport to register a company in Hong Kong last August.

The government denied last week that a Cambodian passport had ever been issued to her.

SOURCE: The Nation, via The Phnom Penh Post – Asian News Network

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Business class bird stowaway in Singapore Airlines flight

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Business class bird stowaway in Singapore Airlines flight | The Thaiger

by The Straits Times – Asia News Network

Business-class passengers found themselves greeted by the stowaway about 12 hours into the flight. A typical Singapore-London flight takes about 14 hours.

In a statement yesterday, a Singapore Airlines spokesman confirmed that a bird was found on flight SQ322 last week.

“It was subsequently caught by cabin crew with the assistance of some of the passengers on board,” said the spokesman.

In a video posted on Facebook, the mynah can be seen perched, seemingly unfazed, on top of an unsuspecting passenger’s headrest. An air steward is seen making a grab for the bird but it evades capture.

SIA saythe bird was handed over to animal quarantine authorities once the aircraft touched down in London. The airline did not provide more information on how the bird got into the aircraft.

Business class bird stowaway in Singapore Airlines flight | News by The Thaiger

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