World

Pokemon hunters not welcome at Cambodia's genocide museum

Authorities seek no-go zones for 'augmented reality' game

Survivors of the Khmer Rouge hit out at Pokemon Go players yesterday after they flocked to one of the regime's notorious prisons - now a museum to Cambodia's brutal genocide - to catch digital monsters.

The mobile app was made available in Cambodia on Saturday, alongside a host of other South-east Asian nations including Singapore, and fans of the game have been flocking to landmarks in recent days.

But the game, which encourages users to go out in search of the virtual creatures, has sparked anger after players appeared at Tuol Sleng prison, where up to 15,000 people were sent to their deaths during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 rule.

"It is an insulting act to the souls of the victims who died at there," Mr Bou Meng, 76, one of a handful survivors of Tuol Sleng, told AFP.

"It is a place of suffering. It is not appropriate to play the game there," he added, calling for the museum to be excluded from the game's maps.

Mr Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which researches the Khmer Rouge atrocities, agreed.

He said the museum is "not a shopping mall nor a playground to catch Pokemon".

Mr Chhay Visoth, the director of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, confirmed that some visitors had played Pokemon Go inside the prison.

He said the museum had stepped up measures to stop people playing the game there because the site was "a sad place" of reflection.

OFF THE ROAD, PLEASE: TAIWAN

Taiwan has demanded that the developers of Pokemon Go make its highways off limits for the augmented reality game after more than 1,200 people were caught playing while driving.

Authorities are grappling with the explosive popularity of the gaming app, which has caused accidents as users hunt virtual cartoon characters in real-world locations.

The National Freeway Bureau said yesterday that it has asked game creator Niantic not to use the island's motorways and rest stops.

"We have asked them not to place any Pokemon treasures in areas surrounding highways," Mr Chen Ting-tsai, a bureau spokesman, told AFP.

While no Pokemon are currently found on motorways, a monument dedicated to Taiwan freedom fighter Chiang Wei-shui located at a tunnel exit has become a safety hazard.

"We have asked the highway police to increase patrols here and discourage drivers from halting suddenly or decelerating," Mr Chen said.

Drivers face fines of NT$3,000 (S$130) if caught using their phones, while motorcyclists have to hand over NT$1,000.

NO-GO ZONES IN THAILAND

Thailand will make places such as the Royal Palace grounds, Buddhist temples and hospitals off limits to players of the game, Reuters reported.

The measures come after the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission met with five telecoms operators to discuss safety measures and the preservation of landmarks.

The regulator will also discuss the possibility of limiting playing time in Thailand. All operators will distribute manuals about how to play online games safely, warnings and how to buy items in games.

Since its global launch, Pokemon Go has sparked a worldwide frenzy among users.

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