Showing posts with label King. Show all posts
Showing posts with label King. Show all posts

Sunday 21 October 2012

Norodom Sihanouk—The End of an Era

By Michelle Vachon - October 17, 2012


King Father Norodom Sihanouk, the flamboyant, tireless monarch who led Cambodia to independence in 1953, watched it descend into genocide and civil war, and reigned once more as the country struggled to its feet, died Monday in Beijing.


The monarch who peacefully won Cambodia’s independence from France, rallied political factions in the 1980s to achieve peace against all odds and, when crowned for a second time, mediated the country’s conflicts out of crisis in the 1990s, Norodom Sihanouk will be remembered as one of the foremost Southeast Asian leaders of the past 60 years.

“His Majesty the King Father…was truly the father of his country and the legendary figure we meet only once in our lifetimes,” Gordon Longmuir, a former Canadian ambassador to Cambodia, wrote in a message on Monday.

“One of the indisputably great figures of the 20th century, and a champion of his people always, His Majesty will be deeply mourned and greatly honored by all Cambodians and the many friends of the Kingdom abroad.”

For people throughout the world, the former King will remain to this day the face of Cambodia, his legendary smile one of the country’s best-known images.

Twice forced into exile and twice proclaimed King, Norodom Sihanouk never failed to be larger than life. His ebullient personality and leadership style were the perfect complement to his dramatic life, and he played up the drama in books with brash titles such as “My War With the CIA” and “Prisoner of the Khmer Rouge.”

In the 1980s, he was the leader that Cold War superpowers trusted and believed could bring an end to decades of civil war in the country. And for Cambodians in the early 1990s, Norodom Sihanouk became the symbol of an era that had known peace before the turmoil of the early 1970s, the Khmer Rouge nightmare.

Norodom Sihanouk once called himself the country’s “natural ruler.” He often referred to his people as “my children” in French and “grandchildren” in Khmer. And biographers say he commonly identified himself as the embodiment of Cambodia. The retired King’s admirers say that attitude spurred him to work tirelessly for the country’s interests, his critics that he was hugely intolerant of criticism. But even his detractors would admit that Norodom Sihanouk was a unique and mercurial, character—charming, self-dramatizing, unpredictable, sometimes self-indulgent. He mixed shrewd diplomatic skills with a disarming frankness that never failed to make a strong impression on those who met him.

“His deep love for the Cambodian people—not shared throughout history by any other Cambodian ruler that I know of—was sincere and moving,” historian David Chandler said on Monday. “His impatience with dissent and his narcissism are also important ingredients of his behavior. Interestingly, unlike other Cambodian rulers before and since, he did not get rich during his years in power.”

Norodom Sihanouk was “a chief of state unlike I had ever met,” wrote New York Times reporter Henry Kamm in his 1998 book, “Cambodia: Report From A Stricken Land.”

“He blurted out with disregard for conventional hypocrisy truths that statesmen are supposed to keep to themselves…. Moreover, he dwelt on his country’s weakness rather than praising pretended strength. He laughed at his own remarks more uproariously than his audience.”

This acute awareness of his country’s fragility in the face of stronger neighbors and self-centered superpowers may give a clue as to how the late King Father kept Cambodia out of the war in neighboring Vietnam for many years, though ultimately the country was drawn into the conflagration in the final years of his reign, which was ended by a military coup in 1970.

“In a world without pity, the survival of a country as small as Cambodia depends on your god and my Buddha,” Norodom Sihanouk told Mr. Kamm, explaining why he hewed to a neutralist policy as neighboring Vietnam was engulfed in flames.

Born on October 31, 1922, Norodom Sihanouk admitted to being a mostly solitary child during his education in a French primary school in Phnom Penh and a French high school in Ho Chi Minh City. He was still a quiet boy of 18 when he was selected as King, and he reportedly wept at the thought of ruling.

Chosen by the French administration for what they took as docility, he would end up playing a major role in ending French Indochina.

“The French chose me because they thought I was a little lamb,” Norodom Sihanouk once wrote. “Later they were surprised to discover that I was a tiger.”

On the death of King Monivong in 1941, Cambodia’s French administrator Admiral Decoux recommended the Cambodian prince, who was studying at a Ho Chi Minh City high school, as the King’s successor.

Numerous French documents of that era remain sealed today but, according to historians, the main reason for selecting Prince Sihanouk was that the prince seemed more malleable and less prone to independent action than other candidates.

France would have ample ground to regret that decision when the young King Sihanouk lobbied world press and leaders to force the French government’s hand and give the country independence in 1953.

The official explanation when he was selected would be that, as a descendent of both royal families—Norodom on his father’s side and Sisowath on his mother’s—choosing Prince Sihanouk would put an end to squabbles between the two competing families. So in October 1941, as war raged in Europe and Cambodia was under Japanese military control through a French administration loyal to Axis powers Germany and Japan, King Sihanouk acceded to the throne.

Thus began the reign of a man that Time magazine in 1999 called one of the most influential Asian leaders of the 20th century, a fascinating ruler and consummate politician whose actions—at times brilliant and often controversial—will be debated by historians and political analysts for decades to come.

Yet the King that Norodom Sihanouk was to become took time to emerge.
When France put him on the throne, nothing had prepared the young prince for this role, writes Mr. Chandler, the historian.

At first kept under strict control by the French, Norodom Sihanouk admitted that, prior to 1952, he was more concerned with female conquests than affairs of state. By the time he was 24 he would have six children; by 1954, he would have 13 children to five different women.
But he was also learning his trade as the nation’s leader, as he demonstrated after the adoption of Cambodia’s 1947 constitution and the 1951 national election.

In January 1953, King Sihanouk asked the National Assembly for special powers, saying that the country was in danger. Refused, he had troops surround the National Assembly building, dissolved the assembly, had about 10 politicians jailed and, holding full powers, concentrated on his “Royal Crusade for Independence” to fulfill the promise he had made to the country to gain Cambodia’s independence within three years.

“[Norodom] Sihanouk’s own sense of confidence and his unshakeable belief that he knew what was best for Cambodia was to be the hallmarks of his rule until his hold on Cambodian politics began to slip in the late 1960s,” historian Milton Osborne writes.

Pursuing his promise, he left for France in February 1953. Once there, he petitioned the French government for independence. But his plea was not taken seriously. After several high-level meetings including a luncheon with French President Vincent Auriol, he was finally told by the French commissioner for associated countries, Jean Letourneau, that his request was “inopportune.”
Rebuffed, he took to the world stage, traveling to the U.S., Canada and Japan to give interviews to muster support for independence. He was interviewed by the Canadian television network CBC in Montreal; The New York Times; and received editorial support in The Washington Post.
The French, wearied from waging a losing battle in their war with Vietnamese nationalists next door, agreed to talks for a peaceful transition to independence in Cambodia. On November 9, 1953, Norodom Sihanouk was able to declare independence for his country. Indochina dissolved the following year.

The young King Sihanouk, and now Father of Independence, had his own vision for Cambodia and was not satisfied to be a constitutional monarch. In 1955, he took the bold step of stepping down as King and, while his father acceded to the throne in his stead, entered the political arena by founding the political party Sangkum Reastr Niyum, which would hold power until 1970.
During those 15 years in power, Norodom Sihanouk embarked on an ambitious program that turned Phnom Penh into one of the most dynamic capitals in the region.

The period was the beginning of what many older Cambodians recall as a golden age. In the post-independence years, education blossomed with the construction of thousands of elementary schools. More than 1 million students received primary education, and nine universities were built for an estimated 10,000 students. New hospitals and clinics were constructed. Cambodia’s brilliant post-independence architects, such as Vann Molyvann, developed a distinctive style of architecture whose work still inspires to this day.

In 1961, war broke out between North and South Vietnam, and Norodom Sihanouk began a tightrope walk that kept Cambodia neutral for nine years.
“His most positive contribution to Cambodian history, I think, was to keep Cambodia out of the Vietnam War for as long as he did,” Mr. Chandler said.

As Sihanouk sought foreign support for his neutralist position, he became a leader within the Non-Aligned Movement of countries such as India, Egypt and Indonesia, which refused to take sides in the Cold War. And while Norodom Sihanouk became a hero of the international left, he also suppressed the growth of left-wing parties in his own country through surveillance and arrest.
At the same time, the 1960s were the heyday of the highlife for Phnom Penh’s elite, crowned by Norodom Sihanouk’s flamboyance.

Playing saxophone and clarinet, Prince Sihanouk would lead a band mostly composed of his fellow princes, which played into the early hours of the morning with a mix of 1930s swing, French pop and the prince’s own songs. Diplomats would sip vintage champagne and dance all night at the Royal Palace soirees, historian Mr. Osborne recalled.

Yet the Koh Santepheap, or “oasis of peace” as Cambodia was known during those years, also contained the seeds of the prince’s downfall. His unspoken policy of vanquishing his political opponents bred resentment.

After arrests of left-wing intellectuals and repression of their publications, leftists fled into the jungle, later to re-emerge as the deadly Khmer Rouge. Meanwhile, the universities produced well-educated graduates who had few job opportunities and who were angered by the corruption in the capital.
Neither backing the U.S. nor the Eastern bloc entirely, his political allegiance led some diplomats and commentators to view him as unreliable, while others saw his unpredictability as a strategy in itself.
“The key to understanding Sihanouk,” wrote Bernard Krisher, publisher of The Cambodia Daily and longtime friend of Norodom Sihanouk, “is that when you are the leader of a small and defenseless country in need of foreign aid, and when competing big powers will help only at the price of your joining their camp, then the only meaningful strategy is to be unpredictable—to play one side against the other and keep everybody guessing. It was a delicate art and Sihanouk was a master.”
But his high-stakes balancing act was not to last.

In 1970, as he was on a trip abroad, Norodom Sihanouk was ousted by the pro-U.S. Lon Nol government.

Told that he could stay in France as long as he remained out of politics and receiving a lukewarm reception in the U.S., he accepted China’s invitation to reside in Beijing and head the opposition movement to the Lon Nol regime that consisted of Khmer Rouge forces backed at the time by North Vietnam. In that capacity, Norodom Sihanouk launched on March 24, 1970, from Beijing a radio appeal to Cambodians to join the “maquis” guerrillas to fight the Lon Nol government and restore him to power.

By leading the movement, he had formed a strategic alliance with the Khmer Rouge insurgents who pledged to support him. Nonetheless, in 1973, he told a New York Times reporter of his fear that when the Khmer Rouge no longer needed him they would “spit him out.” Sure enough, soon after taking power in 1975, the Khmer Rouge imprisoned Norodom Sihanouk, Princess Monineath and Prince Norodom Sihamoni in his own palace in Phnom Penh. He was often in fear of execution during his stay in what he called his “gilded prison.” The Khmer Rouge eventually killed many members of his family who were still in Cambodia.

Just ahead of Vietnamese forces who toppled Pol Pot in January 1979, Norodom Sihanouk, Princess Monineath and Prince Sihamoni were put on a plane bound for Beijing.

The 1980s saw a protracted civil war between a tenuous alliance composed of Khmer Rouge, royalist and republican forces based on the Thai border and the Hanoi-backed government in Phnom Penh. But by 1987, as Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev was introducing policy that would lead to the end of the Cold War, Norodom Sihanouk began peace talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen.
As Cambodia’s most prominent and respected figures, Norodom Sihanouk was at the center of negotiations with the various factions to finally end the Cambodian conflict—one of the last hangovers from the Cold War. Reconciliation led to the Paris Peace Agreement in 1991, and Norodom Sihanouk returned from exile that year to Phnom Penh where he was greeted with a hero’s return. He rode together with Mr. Hun Sen in an open top limousine from Pochentong Airport to the Royal Palace.

The next year, the $2 billion U.N. Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) began its operation to bring peace, stability and democratic elections to the war-weary country. Though it failed to disarm the Khmer Rouge, UNTAC did usher in elections, which were won by the royalist Funcinpec party, chaired by Norodom Sihanouk’s son Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

During the 1993 elections, Norodom Sihanouk was determined to remain neutral. But he soon became associated with the Funcinpec party he had previously founded, and turned into the royalist party’s biggest asset, bringing it to victory.

After the defeated CPP threatened a return to civil war, Norodom Sihanouk took charge. Always pragmatic with a profound understanding of his people and politics, Norodom Sihanouk sealed a compromise to the relief of the U.N. and the world’s superpowers: The CPP and Funcinpec would share power with Prince Ranariddh acting as first prime minister and Mr. Hun Sen as second prime minister. This arranged marriage would end in armed combat in the streets of Phnom Penh in 1997.
In September 1993, 38 years after leaving the throne, Norodom Sihanouk was crowned King yet again. The new post-UNTAC Constitution assigned him ceremonial powers, specifying that he was to reign, but not rule.

Until his retirement in 2004, Norodom Sihanouk continued to appeal to the international community to support the country’s development. He also kept mediating conflicts among Cambodia’s various parties.

In 1993, he tried to broker an agreement between the new Cambodian government and the Khmer Rouge who had resumed fighting shortly after signing the Paris Peace Agreement and were controlling western portions of the country.  He even suggested offering “acceptable” Khmer Rouge leaders government positions if they surrendered and gave up control over zones they were occupying. That offer, however, did not extend to Pol Pot, Ieng Sary, Nuon Chea or Ta Mok. As observers mentioned, Norodom Sihanouk believed that Khmer Rouge with government positions would be easier to control.

In a March 1994 message, he suggested a cease-fire and peace talks between government and Khmer Rouge leaders. Otherwise, the country could be in “mortal danger” of remaining in a state of perpetual war, he said. Peace talks did take place in June 1994 but failed to end the hostilities. On January 18, 1995, King Sihanouk made another appeal for national reconciliation and suggested to extend the government’s amnesty policy to Khmer Rouge defectors. The government announced 10 days later that it endorsed his suggestion except in the case of Pol Pot and Ta Mok, who would have to leave the country. This second attempt also failed.

With heavy fighting depleting the Cambodian army, the government contemplated conscription, a measure for which King Sihanouk strongly disapproved. Obligatory military service would cause social injustice because, he wrote in February 1996, “children from rich and powerful families would always find a way to escape [it].”

That same year, he spoke in favor of a Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal, describing Pol Pot as a monster.

Regarding his granting of amnesty to Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary in September 1996, the late King explained that, even though he did not agree with it, he had to comply with the request of the government and the majority of the National Assembly who approved the move.
Shortly after the amnesty for Ieng Sary, he announced his intention of granting pardon to the largest possible number of prisoners on the occasion of his 74th birthday, saying that since he had given a free pass to a Khmer Rouge leader whose regime had caused the death of nearly 2 million people, he had to pardon those who had committed far less serious crimes.

It was only in December 1998 that the last Khmer Rouge forces would surrender and war in the country would finally end.

In 1999, Norodom Sihanouk criticized the Cambodian government for rejecting the concept of a joint war crimes tribunal dominated by U.N.-appointed judges and prosecutors which, he said, would not infringe on the country’s sovereignty as the government claimed.

The late King’s comments would often put him at odds with Mr. Hun Sen and, prior to his retirement, this would lead to him toning down his comments for a few weeks or months for the sake of good relations with the prime minister. Norodom Sihanouk’s old friend Ruom Rith, however, would often take over and continue to publicly voice criticism of the government.

In 2004, Norodom Sihanouk stepped down, which paved the way for his chosen heir and son, King Norodom Sihamoni, to be crowned King.

The King Father’s death marks the end of an era for Cambodia. An era that saw the country buffeted by the powerful forces of colonialism, the Cold War, civil war and genocide. It was an era unique in the scope and scale of the brutality and devastation suffered by a small country and its people.

In 1985, the French intellectual, Helene Cixous, wrote a play about Norodom Sihanouk that portrayed him as a tragic hero with the stature of a king in a William Shakespeare play. Upon seeing it, the King Father remarked that it was not he that should be portrayed as a tragic hero; it was all of Cambodia.
(Additional reporting by Rick Sine)

Sam Rainsy Seeks Return To Bid King Father Norodom Sihanouk Farewell

By Dene-Hern Chen and Chhorn Chansy - October 21, 2012

Opposition party leader Sam Rainsy has sent a request to Prime Minister Hun Sen and King Norodom Sihamoni asking for permission to return to Cambodia in order to pay his respects to the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, who died October 15 in Beijing.


Mourners offer incense near a photograph of King Father Norodom Sihanouk outside the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh on Friday. (Lauren Crothers/The Cambodia Daily)

Currently in self-imposed exile in Paris—where he has now been for three years—Mr. Rainsy wrote his request in two letters sent and delivered October 18 to the Council of Ministers and King Sihamoni’s cabinet.

“During this time of great sadness, I would like Samdech’s help and understanding to allow me to pay my respects to his soul and see the King Father’s face for the last time in Phnom Penh,” Mr. Rainsy wrote in the letter.

“I was very close to the King Father and I owe him a lot. So the least I could do is pay my last respects,” Mr. Rainsy said by telephone from Paris.

“I would be happy [to return], even for 24 hours,” he said.
Mr. Rainsy was sentenced in 2010 to a total of 12 years in prison on charges of incitement, disinformation and destruction of public property for removing a temporary border marker along the frontier with Vietnam. Although critics slammed the verdict for being politically motivated, Mr. Rainsy has remained abroad, often communicating with his supporters through video link.
He recently vowed that he would return to Cambodia in December to lead the national election campaign of the Cambodian National Rescue Party, a newly merged coalition between the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party.

Prince Sisowath Thomico, chief of cabinet for the late Norodom Sihanouk, confirmed that King Sihamoni’s staff had received the letter, but admitted that it was not something the King could intervene on.

“There is an arrest warrant against Sam Rainsy. So if the King allows him to come and pay his respect to the King Father, then what about the arrest warrant? The King cannot decide this case,” Prince Thomico said.

“This is a decision from the royal government.”
Prince Thomico added that in the spirit of honoring Norodom Sihanouk, the government should consider issuing a blanket amnesty for all political prisoners, and under those circumstances, Mr. Rainsy could return without fear of arrest.

“King Sihanouk is a symbol of national reconciliation and I think it would be a good opportunity on this occasion for the government to grant an amnesty to all political prisoners,” Prince Thomico said. “This would be a great opportunity to show that the royal government is paying respects to the King Sihanouk.”

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, referred questions to officials at Mr. Hun Sen’s Cabinet. Deputy chief of the prime minister’s Cabinet, Lim Leangse, declined to comment.
Mr. Rainsy was one of the first members of Funcinpec, the royalist party formed by Norodom Sihanouk when he was in Paris in 1981. Though he went on to become a Funcinpec minister of finance after the 1993 elections, Mr. Rainsy was subsequently expelled from the royalist party in 1994 after a disagreement with his party leader, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, and CPP leader Mr. Hun Sen, who were sharing the role of co-prime ministers at the time.

Mr. Rainsy said that any disagreements he had at the time with Prince Ranariddh and Funcinpec did not extend to the King Father.

“[Norodom Sihanouk] gave me a lot of advice when I was minister of finance—he encouraged me to stop corruption in government, and to stop deforestation,” Mr. Rainsy said by telephone from Paris.

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King Sihanouk the Uniter

Norodom Sihanouk Norodom Sihanouk, ruler of Cambodia, died on October 15th, aged 89

 


IN THE days before Norodom Sihanouk, then 18, succeeded to the throne, a gust put out the sacred candles lit in the palace to mark the event. Courtiers tried to conceal the bad omen, but Sihanouk heard of it. At his coronation in October 1941, a God-King with a crown as tall as a temple, people thought he looked uneasy.

If so, it was not about that. Sihanouk—as he always called himself, in the third person—was shocked that the French, Cambodia’s colonial rulers, had chosen him as king. He was disturbed, too, that they expected him to be a figurehead like his father, pliant and cuddly, a little lamb. True, he stayed giggly all his life, with a penchant for making films, playing saxophone, fast cars and pretty women. Elvis might have played him, he thought. When excited, betraying his French education, he would cry “Ooh la la!” in his high child’s voice. But underneath he was a tiger.
“National dignity” was his motto. By that, he meant proper independence for “my Cambodia”. It began with independence for himself, breaking out from the stifling, insulating halls of the palace to tour among the peasants. Muddy ricefield salutations to “Papa King” gave him his taste for active politics. In an Indo-China roiled by post-colonial disputes and the shoving of the great powers, he wanted a dignified neutrality, and spent his career struggling to achieve it. On the one hand, he tried to stem the revolutionary communism seeping over the border from Vietnam; on the other he rebuffed attempts by America to make Cambodia its puppet.

An accomplished charmer, he made friends with anybody who looked useful: China’s Zhou Enlai, India’s Nehru, Indonesia’s Sukarno, North Korea’s Kim Il Sung. He made allies even of the Khmers Rouges who destroyed his country. He also played, at his royal whim, whichever role seemed most effective: king, prime minister, or humble Khmer citizen-prince in pyjamas, cap and scarf. As a result, he survived to croon his love songs into elegant old age.

Throwing off his handlers took time and guile. For his first “royal crusade”, ejecting the French, he travelled secretly to Paris in 1953 to petition for independence. Rebuffed there, he went on to Canada, the United States and Japan, genially lifting Cambodia out of its obscurity. When the French, besieged in the region, eventually gave in, his old cavalry instructor from Saumur remarked: “Sire, you have whipped me.” It was a pleasing moment.

Yet he still seemed cast as a figurehead in his newly freed country—a fate tantamount, he said, to keeping Charles de Gaulle on the sidelines after the general had freed France. So he moved pre-emptively, renouncing the throne in 1955 to run in Cambodia’s first elections. Royal powers came in useful to suppress opposition parties, especially the newly formed Democrats. The peasants rallied round him, and he became prime minister.

His country, he proclaimed to the world, was moderate and modernising: new hospitals, new schools. It was neither communist nor capitalist, but “Buddhist socialist” with a feudal flavour. While neighbouring Vietnam and Laos plunged into civil war, Cambodia remained his green “oasis of peace” in which visiting dignitaries were regaled with fine French wine and musical numbers by the king himself. He was indifferent to the poverty of the countryside, the corruption of his officials and the spread of communist cells; his peasants he saw as disobedient children who needed to be put in their place. After one revolt, the heads of villagers were displayed in the capital on spikes.

Meanwhile, his diplomatic neutrality was cracking too. As Vietcong in their thousands sought sanctuary from American firepower in the jungles of eastern Cambodia, he let them stay—and in 1970 his generals, with American backing, organised a putsch against him. Outraged at this treachery, he threw his support behind Cambodia’s communists (“Khmers Rouges”, in his dismissive phrase), giving them legitimacy at a stroke. In 1975 they seized power. Sihanouk, now immured in his palace under house arrest, became a symbol again: a useful man to make occasional smiling tours of the collective farms while a quarter of the population perished. Five of his own children, out of 14 by several women, were killed, as he waited for the Khmers Rouges to “spit him out like a cherry pit”. They never did.

Croissants in Beijing

When Vietnamese forces toppled the Khmers Rouges in 1979, he fled into exile. His old friends, the Chinese and North Koreans, both sheltered him. In Pyongyang he had the run of a 60-room palace; in Beijing he feasted with Deng Xiaoping on croissants fresh from Paris. After the Vietnamese had left Cambodia and the UN had brokered peace, he returned in 1991 with a squad of North Korean bodyguards, convinced his rapturous people would want him to rule again.

They did, but as the figurehead he had never wanted to be. “Papa King” was now checked by a strongman, Hun Sen. From the sidelines, he chattered on. Even after his abdication in 2004 he ran a blog to instruct his people, and an online commentary in French on how the country was doing; and on his website the black-and-white slideshow of his reign went on flickering back and forth, until the fade.



Monday 6 February 2012

Royal Coronation in Cambodia


Royal Coronation in Cambodia 

Posted: 30th October 2004






HIS MAJESTY THE NEW KING OF CAMBODIA: NORODOM SIHAMONI

Phnom Penh (C.S.C. – Ly Sovanna and Sam Rany, October 29, 2004)

October 29 has been an exceptional day in the history of the Kingdom of Cambodia since it was the day of the coronation of the new King HIS MAJESTY NORODOM SIHAMONI who succeeds his father NORODOM SIHANOUK, the beloved FATHER of our nation, highly respected by his children, grand-children and great-grand-children.

On the occasion of the Holy Royal Ceremonies that took place this day we observed all the high rank officials from the Cambodian government presided by Prime Minister HUN SEN and followed by the President of the National Assembly Prince NORODOM RANNARITH, the president of the Senate Chea Sim, the opposition leader Sam Rainsy and the government ministries. Ambassadors and representatives from many countries of the world and leaders of the religions present in the Kingdom came to witness the coronation of His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni and to wish him and our country a long life of prosperity and progress.

His Majesty N. Sihamoni said in his first speech as our new King: “From this happy and solemn day on, I shall devote my whole self in body and soul to the service of our people and nation, pursuing the exceptional work accomplished by my august Father. I shall endeavor myself to continue the path of our glorious and ancient past”. The new King continued: “I engage myself with confidence at the service of religion, humanity, education, social assistance and to the well being of every Cambodian and in particular in favor of the rural population of our Kingdom”.

Addressing the international community His Majesty N. Sihamoni said: “I request each of you to continue the efforts you have already accomplished in favour of the Buddhist Faith, in favor of the development of the country and the construction of peace, prosperity and the honor of our country”. At the end of his speech the new King wished that the Kingdom of Cambodia may enjoy solidarity, national union and the benefit of political decisions. To all his beloved compatriots His Majesty wished good health, happiness and prosperity in recompense to the efforts made in their daily lives. The King gave his special greeting to all the Ambassadors and representatives of different nations for their presence and for their love for Cambodia.


Prince N. Ranarith said to reporters that “the first plan the new King has in mind is to visit our whole country. Then he will visit Asian countries”. Prince Ranarith said that after the Roya Ceremony of the Holy Water, ‘Srong Preah Sokunvary’ his was very happy.

Article Source: Catholic Social Communication, Cambodia: Reportes; LY SOVANNA and SAM RANY

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