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More security pledged for Oudong Mountain relics

Minister of Cults and Religion Him Chhem carries a golden urn, said to contain the Buddha's remains, as a procession returns it to its home on Oudong Mountain on Friday.
Minister of Cults and Religion Him Chhem carries a golden urn, said to contain the Buddha's remains, as a procession returns it to its home on Oudong Mountain on Friday. Pha Lina

More security pledged for Oudong Mountain relics

A stolen golden urn said to contain remains of the Buddha was returned to its home in a stupa atop Oudong Mountain on Friday where authorities yesterday said it will be under constant surveillance to prevent a repeat theft.

Thai Norak Satya, spokesman for the Ministry of Fine Arts, said yesterday that owing to past ministry negligence leading to the relics being stolen in December 2013, the ministry has reconsidered the measures it had taken to ensure the security of the relic.

“It happened because of our reckless under-estimation, our reckless points; we thought that our guard here waiting was enough that nobody was going to steal a precious thing that everyone respects,” he said.

According to Satya, improvements are both structural – such as three gates being strengthened – and administrative, such as cooperation with local Kandal authorities.

“We will still keep working on it to see the [security] loopholes are fixed.”

Ministry of Cults and Religion spokesperson Seng Somony said the five surrounding provinces will contribute to the relics’ protection.

Ponhea Leu district police chief Doung Treng said the relic would be guarded at all times by rotating teams of 10 people and one district police chief.

“Before it was stolen, we didn’t have police to look after the relics closely,” Treng said.

“We didn’t even lock the relics, because we thought no one was going to steal it,” he added.

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