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Friday, December 10, 2010

Hun Sen Scheduled for Five-Day Chinese Visit

Prime Minister Hun Sen will spend five days in China next week at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao.

Hun Sen will meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao and other senior leaders and will pay a visit to former king Norodom Sihanouk, who is in Beijing for medical treatment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on its website Hun Sen would pay an official visit Dec. 13 through Dec. 17.

China has become a large supporter of Cambodia, providing millions of dollars in aid packages and investment in infrastructure, power and mining.

Cambodian officials say they expect Hun Sen to sign even more deals with China on this visit, though they declined to give details.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh are both expected to accompany the prime minister.
Read more!

Cambodian company to build coal power plant

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia's government has given its approval for a local company to build a 700-megawatt coal-fired power plant to help cope with the country's electricity shortage.

A government press release said Friday that Cambodia International Investment Development Group Co, Ltd had been awarded a 33-year contract to build and operate a $362 million power plant in the coastal province of Preah Sihanouk, the first Cambodian company to undertake such a project.

The statement said the plant would produce 270 megawatts in its first phase, due to be completed by 2015.

In September, a Chinese company, Erdos Electrical Power & Metallurgical Co., announced plans to build a 700-megawatt coal power plant in the same province. It was not immediately clear if the projects were related. Read more!

A Decade Brewing Coffee, and an Arts Scene

Cambodian artists say they owe a debt of gratitude to Dana Langlois and her Java Gallery and Cafe, which marks its 10th anniversary on Saturday.

Langlois, an American, opened her cafe, near Independence Monument, in 2000, creating a space for Cambodian artists to display their work and encouraging the growth of the arts, which were devastated under the Khmer Rouge.

“The dozens of young Cambodian artists who have exhibited at Java have played significant roles in the Cambodian art scene,” Langlois said in an interview.

Artists who have shown their work at Java have pursued subjects like culture, conservation, the environment and the daily lives of other Cambodians.

At least 20 different Cambodians have shown their work at the gallery. Chath Piersath, a painter, said Langlois was the “first foreigner” to concern herself with Cambodian art.

Leang Seckon, a painter, said Langlois had helped Cambodian art reach foreigners and encouraged younger artists to pursue more works.

“Java is a center for training professionalism in art and for counseling the establishment, innovation and exhibition of new works of art,” he said. It has also provided a venue for Cambodian artists to study works “from many countries,” he said.

“At this time, foreigners have come to see the development of Cambodian works of art, which began to rise up after the war,” he said.

Leang Seckon has shown 100 different works at the gallery over the past 10 years, fetching tens of thousands of dollars.

“I developed into a well-known artist in Cambodia and now I’ve become an internationally recognized painter,” he said. “I’m very happy for the art works that I have learned from paintings of different countries at Java, such as the United States, France and the United Kingdom.”

Oeur Sokuntevy, perhaps Cambodia’s best-known female artist, said Java helped artists train and develop.

“Ms. Dana has helped counsel Cambodian artists in painting and promoted their knowledge, understanding and wisdom of the Cambodian artists,” Oeur Sokuntevy said. “I have more understanding of technical painting, and the reason is the establishment of my art works at Java.”

So far, Oeur Sokuntevy has shown 55 works of art at Java, including paintings and sculpture, with price tags between $400 and $500. But it’s not about the money, she says.

“We do not hope to sell the paintings,” she said. “We show our art works, and we want our work recognized by the international community. It doesn’t mean that we just sell our work.”

While some work brings high prices, “for the artists, they think that they do not need the money, but they think of producing new innovations and strangeness in their works.”
Read more!

A Decade Brewing Coffee, and an Arts Scene

Cambodian artists say they owe a debt of gratitude to Dana Langlois and her Java Gallery and Cafe, which marks its 10th anniversary on Saturday.

Langlois, an American, opened her cafe, near Independence Monument, in 2000, creating a space for Cambodian artists to display their work and encouraging the growth of the arts, which were devastated under the Khmer Rouge.

“The dozens of young Cambodian artists who have exhibited at Java have played significant roles in the Cambodian art scene,” Langlois said in an interview.

Artists who have shown their work at Java have pursued subjects like culture, conservation, the environment and the daily lives of other Cambodians.

At least 20 different Cambodians have shown their work at the gallery. Chath Piersath, a painter, said Langlois was the “first foreigner” to concern herself with Cambodian art.

Leang Seckon, a painter, said Langlois had helped Cambodian art reach foreigners and encouraged younger artists to pursue more works.

“Java is a center for training professionalism in art and for counseling the establishment, innovation and exhibition of new works of art,” he said. It has also provided a venue for Cambodian artists to study works “from many countries,” he said.

“At this time, foreigners have come to see the development of Cambodian works of art, which began to rise up after the war,” he said.

Leang Seckon has shown 100 different works at the gallery over the past 10 years, fetching tens of thousands of dollars.

“I developed into a well-known artist in Cambodia and now I’ve become an internationally recognized painter,” he said. “I’m very happy for the art works that I have learned from paintings of different countries at Java, such as the United States, France and the United Kingdom.”

Oeur Sokuntevy, perhaps Cambodia’s best-known female artist, said Java helped artists train and develop.

“Ms. Dana has helped counsel Cambodian artists in painting and promoted their knowledge, understanding and wisdom of the Cambodian artists,” Oeur Sokuntevy said. “I have more understanding of technical painting, and the reason is the establishment of my art works at Java.”

So far, Oeur Sokuntevy has shown 55 works of art at Java, including paintings and sculpture, with price tags between $400 and $500. But it’s not about the money, she says.

“We do not hope to sell the paintings,” she said. “We show our art works, and we want our work recognized by the international community. It doesn’t mean that we just sell our work.”

While some work brings high prices, “for the artists, they think that they do not need the money, but they think of producing new innovations and strangeness in their works.”
Read more!

Railway Presents Relocation Woes: Housing Advocate

A railway rehabilitation project under a loan from the Asian Development Bank will impact 4,000 families, and a housing rights advocate said Thursday the solutions for them are inadequate.

Eang Vuthy, a project manager for Bridges Across Borders, told “Hello VOA” that the families have not received enough compensation to relocate from the path of the rail line, while their businesses, jobs, and children’s education are in jeopardy.

Residents in the provinces of Battambang and Preah Sihanouk have already been moved, with negative results, he said.

“Those people are stifled in relation to their living, because the land that was exchanged for them is without enough infrastructure or programs to create businesses and jobs,” he said. The move from urban areas to relocation sites outside of town have meant a loss of jobs, work and school, he said.

“Some people received only $200 in exchange for leaving their houses, which were built near the railroad,” he said. “How can they live?”

In other countries, such projects entail clear plans on how to deal with evictions, he said. Those who live in the path of the railroad received fair compensation, shelter and means to find work and open businesses, he said. In Thailand, people who live within 20 meters of the proposed line receive rental housing for a certain amount of time, providing them an opportunity to find a new place to live.

“People are concerned about when they are going to change to a new place, so they dare not conduct business on their land, they dare not renovate their houses, and they feel frustrated,” he said. “We should review the examples of our neighbors and apply them to our country and clearly define when we are going to develop this land.”

One caller said he was given only $9 to leave his land in Banteay Meanchey province, but Eang Vuthy said this was illegal. Banteay Meanchey has not yet come up with a plan for rail projects, he said, and families should not be forced out ahead of time.

People cannot be forced off their land without a contract, he said, adding that there were commune, district and provincial authorities in place to help solve problems, along with the courts and the ADB.

The railway project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2013, but delays are possible as unexpected problems crop up. The plan calls for the rehabilitation of 600 kilometers of railway, between Phnom Penh and Preah Sihanouk, and Phnom Penh and Banteay Meanchey and Poipet.

Eang Vuthy said the ADB has allocated $3.5 million for the resettlement of residents, a figure he said was not enough.
Read more!