National Heritage, but vandalised and under-maintained


Locals bemoan the lack of maintenance of the Gua Tambun rock art site, despite having been designated as a national heritage site. I recorded the site as part of my MA research several years ago and there was very little or promotion of the site then and it is sad to hear that this is still the case.

Vandalism at Gua Tambun. The Malay Mail 20150411

Vandalism at Gua Tambun. The Malay Mail 20150411


National heritage lost to ravages of time and vandals
Malay Mail, 11 April 2015

In another country, a drawing dating back thousands of years ago would have become the pride of the nation, a major tourist attraction and a well-guarded heritage.

Such an artifact would have been flaunted to the extremes, ensuring it would never be lost and continue to generate as much tourist dollars as possible.

But, sadly, that is not the case for the drawings on the walls of a collapsed cave in Tambun, a five-minute drive from the centre of Ipoh town.

Believed to have been discovered by British soldiers in 1959, the drawings are said to be at least 3,000 years old although there have been claims they could even be 12,000 years old.

Full story here.

Charges filed against Bayon vandal

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Cambodia has begun to file charges against Willemijn Vermaat, the Dutch-born New Zealand resident who admitted to destroying a Buddha statue in the Bayon. Amazingly, her response has been “I’m not worried. I didn’t do anything wrong.

Repairing the vandalised statue at the Bayon. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20141023

Repairing the vandalised statue at the Bayon. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20141023

Charges over broken statue
Phnom Penh Post, 22 October 2014

Court Complaint Lodged Against NZ Tourist
Cambodia Daily, 22 October 2014

Cambodia moves to prosecute Wellington woman over broken Buddha statue
One News, 23 October 2014
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Bayon vandalism: Tourist admits to breaking statue

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Following on from last week’s story about a Dutch (but New Zealand resident) tourist who destroyed a Buddha statue in the Bayon. The tourist has since admitted to the New Zealand media that she did indeed destroy the statue, on account of voices in her head. It is not known if she will be prosecuted.

Tourist Admits Breaking Bayon Buddha, Blames Voice in Her Head
The Cambodia Daily, 15 October 2014

‘Voices’ told NZ tourist to sit on Buddha’s lap
Phnom Penh Post, 15 October 2014

Vandalism Suspected at Famed Bayon Temple of Angkor Wat
VOA Cambodia, 14 October 2014

“Possessed” Woman vandalizes Angkor Wat heritage site
NL Times, 14 October 2014

‘I did push over Buddha’
Otago Daily Times, 14 October 2014

Kiwi admits smashing Buddha statue in Cambodian temple
New Zealand Herald, 14 October 2014

Smashed Buddha statue fake – NZ woman
3 News, 14 October 2014

Kiwi says smashed Buddha statue at Angkor Wat was a fake
One News, 14 October 2014
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New Zealand tourist wanted for Bayon vandalism

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A New Zealand tourist is wanted for questioning in connection with a broken Buddha statue in the Bayon. The tourist was questioned earlier for illegally staying overnight in the Angkor complex.


Police hunt woman tourist who ‘smashed centuries-old Buddha statue’ inside temple at Cambodia’s Angkor Wat
Daily Mail, 13 October 2014

Broken statue angers temple management
Phnom Penh Post, 13 October 2014

New Zealand tourist wanted over broken statue at Cambodia’s Angkor Wat complex
Radio Australia, 13 October 2014

Kiwi wanted for breaking Angkor statue
Bangkok Post, 13 October 2014

Tourist Wanted for Breaking Buddha Statue
The Cambodia Daily, 13 October 2014

New Zealander wanted over broken statue in Cambodia’s Angkor complex
Philippine Inquirer, 13 October 2014

Kiwi held after Buddha statue smashed
Otago Times, 13 October 2014

The sad state of Gua Tambun

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Vandalism at Gua Tambun

These news stories were posted by Liz Price in a comment on the recent post about Gua Tambun, but I have a particular interest in the site so I’m re-posting them here. Graffiti has always been a problem ever since the site was open to public in the 1970s.

Vandalism at Gua Tambun

Vandalism at Gua Tambun

Heritage site not treasured
The Star, 09 April 2014

Walls of Gua Tambun vandalised with paint and sketches
The Star, 05 April 2014

Gua Tambun jadi mangsa vandalisme
Sinar Harian, 05 April 2014
Article is in Bahasa Malaysia
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Malaysian rock art site under threat of vandalism

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via The Star, 05 April 2018:

THE walls of Gua Tambun, near Ipoh, that are adorned with pre-historic drawings have been vandalised.

Showing some of the photographs taken at the site, Wong Kah Woh (DAP-Canning) said he had been receiving complaints from the public over the matter since last week.

“I believe the pre-historic drawings dating between 3,000 and 12,000 years old have been vandalised for some time now.

Source: Walls of Gua Tambun vandalised with paint and sketches | The Star

See also

Sapa’s petroglyphs risk getting erased

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The picture says it all. The engraved boulders of Sapa are slowly being eroded – naturally from the environment, but at an accelerated rate from tourists clambering onto the rocks. I visited the site two years ago and many of the engravings on the larger boulders which were accessible to tourists were already faint due to smoothening of the rock surface or vandalised.

Distress cry for help from Sapa ancient rock field
Vietnam Net Bridge, 29 January 2012
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Cambodia seeks international help for Preah Vihear

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Following the latest damage to the Preah Vihear temple from the firefight in early April, the Cambodian government intends to ask the international community for guarantees of protection for the site. While the site definitely needs protection from vandals, I can’t help but wonder if this is just a way for the Cambodian government to up the pressure on the Thais (particularly in their current state of turmoil) and get them to back down? This move does not square with the resolution of both countries to solve the conflict at the diplomatic table.

Cambodian gov’t agrees to contain temple vandalism with int’l intervention
Xinhua, 14 April 2009
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