PHNOM PENH, (Khmer Times) – No more voluntary donations to Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, the capital’s major tourist destination and a symbol of the Khmer Rouge atrocities, as of August 1, 2014.
“Foreigners 18 years old or above must pay the entrance fee of $3 per person, while it’s free of charge for locals, foreign researchers, foreign delegations and students,” said Chhay Visoth, director of Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.
Many foreigners visiting the museum were surprised by the new admission fee. Previously, there had been no official ticket sales. It was only labeled as voluntary contributions.
According to the Culture Ministry’s Toul Sleng Museum Management Director, Kong Vireak, the previously voluntary contributions were difficult to manage.
“A decade of non-mandatory gratuity ends today. The directive came from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts,” he added.
“A portion from the earnings of the entrance ticket will go to the maintenance of the museum, but the remuneration automatically goes to the government. But I am not authorized to talk about it,” Chhay Visoth added.
A former school before the Khmer Rouge era, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum became a detention facility operated by the Khmer Rouge during the Democratic Kampuchea era (1975-1979), code named the S-21 prison.
Its existence was discovered by two Vietnamese photojournalists on January 8, 1979, a day after Vietnamese forces captured the Cambodian capital.
It was one of at least 150 execution centers in the country and as many as 20,000 prisoners were tortured and murdered by Khmer Rouge soldiers and officials.
Tuol Sleng means “hillock of the sleng trees”(Hill of the Poisonous Trees), adopted after the site was opened as a museum in 1980.
Former S-21 Prison survivor Bou Meng, sets up a stall inside Tuol Sleng where he sells books. (Photo: Rosahlee Bautista)