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Border temple police claim starvation

Border temple police claim starvation

DESPITE a mass outpouring of financial support for the soldiers patrolling the Thai-Cambodian border, the heritage police guarding Preah Vihear temple itself have not been receiving enough food to eat or water to drink, officials say.

"Hunger became normal," said one of the policemen, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "There is not enough here, and we have to manage our daily lives among ourselves."

Multiple other police officials who spoke to the Post said their monthly salary and rice rations were inadequate.

The 37 policemen from the Ministry of Interior's Department of Heritage were sent to the temple June 30, a week before the 11th-century temple was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site.

Each policeman receives a ration of 22kg of rice and a monthly salary of US$50, but they claim that is not enough.

"We have not received generous donations like the soldiers," the policeman said.

"Buying drinking water is the main problem."

Soldiers at Preah Vihear temple and along the front lines have received numerous gifts in cash and kind from all across the country since tensions erupted in mid-July.

Hang Soth, director general of Preah Vihear Authority, acknowledged the food shortages that the heritage police faced, but he said it was not a big problem.

"It is a common issue as we are staying in a battlefield," Hang Soth said. "Protecting the temple is our duty."  

Tann Chay, director of the heritage department at the Ministry of Interior could not be reached for comment Monday.

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