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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Children to lose haven

Children to lose haven

120411_04

Siem Reap town
Hundreds of children in Siem Reap stood to lose the place they read, dance and camp because the government had sold the land the Cambodian National Youth Centre is located on, vice-chairman Thav Than said yesterday.

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Staff and youths expected to be relocated to a site 20 kil-ometres away in Siem Reap Administration City after the Ministry of Education sold the land to a private comp-any, Thav Than said.

“Most of the youths who regularly read books in here will never reach their library again,” he said.

Thav Than  also lamented the inferior learning environment at the new site.

An anonymous letter from members of the Siem Reap community recently sent to Prime Minister Hun and obtained by the Post alleges that the ministry had sold the site for US$500,000.

The company that bought the land is now listing the property for sale for $7 mill-ion, the letter claims, adding that some of the children affected by the sale are orphans or from poor families.

The current site is home to the Khmer Art School, which teaches traditional Khmer dance skills to more than 300 students aged from seven to 15 and is shared by a souvenir shop  that sells mementos crafted by women, children and people with disabilities.

The land is also used as a camping ground for children from across the country.  

“Here, we have a lot of large trees, nice buildings and many schools surrounding us,” Thav Than said.

“The new location has only Bakong High School, which is located four kilometres from the administration city of Siem Reap.”

The land, which once belonged to the controversial pre-independence figure Dap Chhoun, was sold by the Ministry of Education to the J&R Import Export and Construct-ion Company.

Those opposing the move argue that the land cannot be sold because it is Khmer Nat-ional Heritage land.

Neither J&R Import Export and Construction Company, nor Oueng Seridy, chairman of the Department of Educat-ion, Youth and Sport, could be reached yesterday.

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