Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Comment : Remove the Thieves Hotel

Comment : Remove the Thieves Hotel

Comment : Remove the Thieves Hotel

During the French colonial days, the French built a big prison in the middle of Phnom

Penh.

By doing so, the French had an aim to bring contempt to the local Khmers.

After the French granted independence to Cambodia in 1953 the big prison remained

there with no body caring for it. For a couple of regimes, the big prison has still

been capable of accommodating thieves and robbers as usual. Only administrative systems

have been changing

During the colonial period, all jail birds had to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning

to take Buddhist prayer, which made some town folks even confuse it with an abandoned

monastery.

Every Buddhist Saints day, there was a program that monks were invited to deliver

Buddhist sermons to the birds at 8 p.m.

The goal birds, whose heads were entirely shaved, had a uniform of blue short sleeved

shirts and blue shorts. They ate red rice.

When under the control of the Khmers, they wore mixed uniform, with normal hair,

eating white rice. But the birds staged a hunger strike, refusing to eat white rice.

They said white rice make them suffer from numbness and asked for red rice.

During the '80s, under the Vietnamese colonial rule, this thieves' hotel was called

"T3" or "Tu3", a Vietnamese term for "prison 3" we

didn't know what was happening inside the hotel, but we just knew that all the birds

were chained one to another while sleeping.

Now, we people would like to suggest the new government to move this prison to another

place out of town. We feel a lot of shame when tourists see it.

We think that it would look better to turn the prison to a state building or something

else.

But please don't convert it into a hotel. No tourists will sleep in it, because people

might confuse them with jail birds.

- Translation from Meatophoum Sep. 28

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