As a westerner who frequently and happily visits Cambodia, please allow me to
express my grave concern at the pillaging of the Angkor temples at Siem Reap and
It is my policy never to interfere in internal Cambodian
affairs, but here much more is at stake.
To me, visiting these temples,
which I consider one of mankind's greatest achievements in art and culture, is a
constant source of joy. However, this time coming to Cambodia I learn that the
lotus pedestal with Buddha footprints from Neak Pean's eastern tower has
This is also true of two priceless Apsara heads from Ta
Prohm. Recently, your own paper published the tragic story of the dismantling of
These are just a few examples that have come to my
knowledge - among countless others, I am sure.
I know that many
Cambodians share with me a deep sense of sadness and frustration about this loss
of Cambodian and world heritage.
I hope that His Majesty King Norodom
Sihanouk's appeal to the so-called "donor countries" for aid to safeguard the
temples does not go unanswered.
Meanwhile, let me present a model of how
a future structure to better protect the temples might look.
that a drastic but necessary counter-measure to further pillaging of the temple
area at Siem Reap would be a complete dissolution of the special police force on
Any organization replacing it would have to have an
international "head" of highly skilled and motivated security
Any Cambodian staff on patrol around the temples should be
replaced at frequent intervals, not exceeding 12 months.
recruitment of the guards could favor ex-KR hardliners, whom I believe to be
less exposed to the national epidemic: corruption.
To further minimize
this risk the staff should be paid a decent salary and be properly prepared for
their duties, including the creation of a consciousness about the value and
importance of their mission.
There is a sort of parallel between the
Republic of Cambodia and the present-day situation. In the early seventies,
everyone seemed to know that Lon Nol's side was losing, and for that reason
everyone went berserk in corruption.
Today there is a vacuum left over
from the war and the Khmer Rouge influence which, until it is filled by a
normalized, civilized mentality, is creating a true haven for the most anarchic
sides of the Khmer spirit. I believe that we all have a moral duty to do our
best to counter it.
Thomas Weber Carlsen, of Trige Parkvej,
Last Home Guesthouse, Phnom Penh