Stepped up secruity to prevent future vandalism of Thai sites

In response to last week’s vandalism of the Khmer temple of Phanom Rung, the Thai Fine Arts department have funded additional security measures. The word on the ground is that the vandalism is part of an occult ritual.

Security at ancient sites to get boost
Bangkok Post, 24 May 2008
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Security at ancient sites to get boost

The Culture Ministry plans to allocate 300 million baht to beef up security systems at historical sites across the country. The extra money, which will be used to install spotlights and closed-circuit cameras, was decided upon in the wake of the vandalism at the Phanom Rung historical site in Buri Ram on Monday, said Vira Rojpojchannarat, permanent secretary for culture.

The equipment will be installed at around 5,000 ancient sites across the country, while several at-risk historical sites in the lower part of the Northeast would get more staff.

He said the Fine Arts Department would start restoring damaged statues at Phanom Rung on Monday. The repairs would be preceded by a Brahmin ritual in accordance with Hindu belief.

House Speaker Chai Chidchob, meanwhile, offered a 500,000-baht reward for information leading to the arrest of the wrongdoers.

Mr Chai dismissed rumours implicating his family in the vandalism which some believed to have been linked to a black magic ritual at the ancient temple.

At the same time, a Cambodian politician said that ethnic Khmers were unlikely to be involved in the desecration of the temple and the very insinuation showed deep ignorance of Khmer culture.

Son Soubert, a member of the Cambodian Constitutional Council and a US and French-trained archaeologist, said he was disappointed some Thais apparently suspected ethnic Khmers would damage a temple as part of black magic rites.

He was responding to a Thai media report quoting police as saying the vandalism may have been part of an occult ritual.

The police also noted that many ethnic Khmers lived in the area.

”The Khmers of Buri Ram and Surin respect the Linga of Brahmanism because they believe if they desecrate it they cannot live in peace,” he said.

Accusations have flown wildly about who may have damaged the temple and why, with the finger of blame being pointed to people ranging from Khmer sorcerers to Thaksin Shinawatra.

Related Books:
Uncovering Southeast Asia’s Past: Selected Papers from the 10th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists
Phanom Rung: Prasat hin sichomphu bon yot phukhaofai : thipphayawiman fim khong manutnarmit hæng dieo nai Prathet Thai = Prasat Khao Phnom Rung

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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