PREAH VIHEAR – Grocers near the Preah Vihear temple have been banned from selling wine and beer amid the escalating standoff between Cambodian and Thai soldiers that many fear could erupt into violence.
The order came after a drunken brawl between soldiers and civilians in the area, shop owners told the Post on July 22.
“The authorities are concerned that drunken soldiers and policemen could cause trouble,” said grocer Oun Phat, adding that vendors were asked to thumbprint documents promising not to sell alcohol and to close at 4pm.
Siv On, another grocer at the market near Preah Vihear temple who has stopped selling wine, said that officers and local authorities asked sellers to cooperate with them to maintain security. Vendors were happy to comply as they were “afraid of getting shot by drunken soldiers and police,” she said.
“I am particularly concerned that drunken Cambodian and Thai soldiers could open fire at each other because they get confused,” On added.
Sor Thavy, deputy governor of Preah Vihear province, told the Post on July 23 that wine and beer are now banned near the international border crossing because of the volatile nature of the current situation.
Oung Saroeun, a police officer in border battalion 795 which intervened in the argument near the checkpoint, said that his battalion has now “poured out dozens of liters of wine” as a preemptive measure to avoid future disputes. Saroeun said that excessive consumption of alcohol had “the potential to cause confrontation without order.”