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Lighting Scheme Has ‘No Affect’ on Temples: Council

Council Minister Sok An told the National Assembly Friday that a system of outdoor lighting at the Angkor Wat temples will not hurt the ancient structures and could be a boon to tourism.

“The heat from the lamps is 50,000-times weaker than the sun and less than the moon,” Sok An said, citing lengthy studies prior to the beginning of the scheme.

Critics of the plan worry the lighting, undertaken under the Apsara Authority, the government body that oversees the temples, could be damaging.

Moeung Son, chairman of the Khmer Civilization Foundation, is facing a lawsuit for his public criticism of the lighting.

The International Coordinating Committee for Angkor, which advises Apsara, recommended the lighting, on the entryway to Angkor Wat and along the famous temple’s northern bas-relief gallery.

Sok An said broadcasters Radio Free Asia and Voice of America were distorting news about the lighting and were “the cause of the confusion of public opinion.”

The lighting will enable tourists to visit the temple at night and is among several initiatives being developed by the Ministry of Tourism to attract more visitors at time when the economic crisis has stunted arrivals, Sok An said.

Tourism is the second-leading economic driver in Cambodia, behind garment exports. Both sectors have been hard-hit by the global economic crisis.