Official Vows to Oust Suspect Fine Arts Students

The Ministry of Culture bowed to student demands Monday by agreeing to expel five students from the School of Fine Arts who had been accepted without taking entrance exams.

The agreement came after Prince Sisowath Panara, the ministry’s undersecretary of state, met with students for about an hour Monday. The prince said the ministry will issue an official expulsion order on Thursday.

“The Ministry of Culture lets them study because they are poor,” Prince Sisowath Panara told students, who first protested Friday by burning tires and hanging banners at the school. “We want to give them fair opportunity to have access studies like other students.”

But the protesting students were skeptical. Several said they believe the “reserve students” are not poor, but instead used family connections to win admission. The protesters warned the strike would continue after Thursday.

“If the ministry still hasn’t ordered the expulsions, the strike will go on, and it will be even more serious because we have plenty of tires,” said one student leader.

Sok Sophal, deputy dean of the architecture faculty, said he urged students to “calm down, but they ignored my plea.”

Five “reserve” students were admitted last year without taking entrance exams. Parents of the five students had written a letter to Culture Minister Princess Norodom Bopha Devi in Decem­ber asking them to be admitted as reserve students, according to a copy of the letter shown by the student leader.


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