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PHNOM PENH - Cambodia's magnificent Angkor Wat temple was discriminated against by the Seven Wonders contest voting system, which favoured countries with more educated and larger populations, a senior official said yesterday.
Chan Sophal, deputy provincial governor of Siem Reap, where the 12th century temple is located, called Angkor Wat being overlooked as "regrettable", but said the voting system had always made it virtually impossible for a Cambodian monument to win.
The New Seven Wonders Foundation announced the list in Lisbon on Saturday after about 100million votes were registered by Internet or telephone.
The new list was chosen from a short list of 21 sites selected from an original list of 77.
"The competition just wasn't suitable for a country in Cambodia's situation," Sophal said.
"It has a very small population [about 14million], most of whom know nothing about information technology or computers, so they could not vote or contribute."
Cambodia is recovering from almost three decades of civil war, including the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 Democratic Kampuchea regime, which wiped out the country's infrastructure, including schools and communications. Most of the educated population such as teachers and doctors were killed.
Sophal said technology such as telephones, let alone computers for online voting, were almost non-existent in rural areas.
Siem Reap, in the country's north, is one of Cambodia's poorest provinces and the country remains one of the poorest in the region.
The UN Educational, Social and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has already blasted the competition as irrelevant. Unesco designated Angkor Wat a World Heritage site in 1992.
The New Seven Wonders winners are the Great Wall of China, the ruins of Petra in Jordan, Rio de Janeiro's famous statue of Christ, the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, the Mayan city of Chichen Itza in Mexico, Rome's Colosseum and the Taj Mahal. - Sapa-AP