A NEW command centre for forces stationed near Preah Vihear temple would be completed by the end of the month, military officials said yesterday.
Kvan Siem, commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces military engineers, said the 20-by-30-metre building had been under construction since March. The US$60,000 project, funded by Prime Minister Hun Sen, stands 1.5 kilometres from the temple and will shore up the Cambodian presence near the contentious border with Thailand, Kvan Siem says.
“This building was built because of the Thai military’s invasion,” he said. “We want to show it to the next generation so that they will remember the Thai invasion, but this is a peaceful command headquarters.”
At least seven troops have been killed along the border since 2008. Hun Sen has repeatedly demanded that Thai troops withdraw from the Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda near the temple as a precondition for demobilsation at the border.
“This is the first RCAF command centre built near the battle site between Cambodian and Thai soldiers,” said Yim Phim, commander of RCAF Brigade 8. “It is for commanders to hold meetings with other commanders and to order troops to prevent Thai soldiers from invading Cambodia.”
In September, Cambodia Television Network announced that it was raising money to build concrete bunkers for troops at the border under a controversial programme in which private businesses provide charitable support to the military.
In the midst of these fortifications, preservation officials are working to refurbish the temple and the surrounding area in an effort to attract tourists. Last week, the Preah Vihear National Authority announced the completion of a 1.6 kilometre staircase to the temple designed to make the cliffside site more accessible to visitors.