During feedback session at the 11th Government-Private Sector Meeting at the Cambodia Development Council (CDC), Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen clarified two issues regarding the Heroic King-Father’s articles posted in website about the so called CPP’s motivation against HM the King Samdech Preah Norodom Sihamoni and attempt to replace the Norodom’s with the Sisowath’s in the Royal Palace. Excerpts of comments are as follows.
… I have two important things to add on to this feedback session and I assure RFI already broadcasted the news yesterday. I received a call yesterday about this issue but I had the letter from the Royal Palace the night before last. I wrote and sent already a letter to the Heroic King-Father and Queen-Mother already. In the last few weeks there have been two problems. First the letter dated 9 January that there is a plan to replace HM the King Norodom Sihamoni by someone from the Sisovath’s line in the 21st century. I have informed in my letter to the King Father and Queen Mother that the issue does not exist. I do not have this information from both lines – Norodom and Sisovath, and more than that they both are close relatives. Who creates this problem?
Preah Baat Ang Duong had three sons – Preah Karuna Norodom who became King when Preah Baat Ang Duong died in 1860. Another son is Preah Baat Sisovath who ascended the throne after Preah Baat Norodom’s death. The third is Sivatha. After Preah Baath Sisovath Monivong died in 1941, Preah Baat Norodom Sihanouk ascended the throne. In 1955 Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk abdicated to lead the Sangkum Reastr Niyum and contested in the national election after the Geneva Conference. The throne was succeeded by the King Father Suramrith, whose death in 1960 kept Cambodia a country without King. The Constitution was then amended to make a Head of State. We then have Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk as a Head of State and not HM the King. In between 1960 and 1970 Cambodia had a throne but never had HM the King but a Head of State.
In 1993 we brought back the Kingdom of Cambodia and later in 2004 Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk retired whereas the Throne Council had to organize an election to choose a new King in his succession. Samdech Preah Norodom Sihamoni comes from the Council’s election. Choosing a King in Cambodia is truly a democratic way. I recalled that on August 31, 2004 in Beijing, I was accompanied by HE Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and Secretary of State for the Office of the Council of Ministers HE Prak Sokhon went to see HM the King Father to request his approval for the amendment of the Constitution to alter the point where HM the King possesses no right to choose his heir. HM the King Father did not agree and recommended that issue of selecting someone to be his heir must be decided by the Throne Council. The Cambodian Constitution stipulates that Kingdom of Cambodia’s King is a Constitutional Monarch.
We also brought more options regarding the way to go about the election and simple majority is the formulation that we had agreed upon in that meeting. As far as candidates to be King – I think we should let the cat out of the bag – HM the King Father proposed two of his sons – Samdech Preah Boromneath Sihamoni or Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranaridh. I said to HM the King Father at that time that I never heard Samdech Krom Preah says anything about wishing to be King. I called Samdech Krom Preah to clarify his position. He asked “how can I make thing clear that I do not wish to be King?” I suggested that we write a letter to be signed by CPP and Funcinpec that we supported Samdech Preah Norodom Sihamoni to take the throne. And this happened on September 4, 2004 in Beijing.
One more factor that one should keep in mind is that Article 7 of the Constitution stipulates that HM the King is a life Head of State for life. I used to mention before that the Cambodian throne will be in stability for the next 20 to 30 years because we have a King whose age is younger than I am. When I said the process of making a King in Cambodia is a democratic one because HM is to be elected by the people’s deputies – who are President and Vice Presidents of the Senate, the President and Vice Presidents of the national Assembly, the Prime Minister – all of whom are from the people’s selection. Thus HM the King is being selected by the people. If one fails to get elected to the mentioned position, one could not become a member of the Throne Council.
The second story is even bitter and shocking. It is HE Khek Vandi who went to inform HM the King that the leadership of the Cambodian People’s Party is unhappy with HM because HM tends to listen too much to the Heroic King Father. What does HE Khek Vandi mean in this respect? Samdech Chea Sim already went to see HM the King and I already sent the letter to HM. I would like HE Khek Vandi and Funcinpec give a clear explanation of his intention. Does he wish to seek a split between HM the King and the leadership of CPP who currently hold top country’s institutions?
I thank the Heroic King Father for letting us know about this, or else HM the King could be unhappy and suspicious of the CPP leadership. The incident is bad and I seek explanation from HE Khek Vandi and I would do nothing to harm him. But I am sure when the King Father put it down on paper the story must be a true one. I urge you to step out of darkness to daylight, where have you got this news? And you have to explain it to HM the King and the Cambodian People’s Party. CPP has a political consensus – not just a simple majority, in providing support to HM the King. We see HM the King as a national pride and a good constitutional monarch because HM always abides by the Constitution.
The fact that I supported HM the King, the same as other leaders of CPP, is not because I and my wife are accepted to be an adopted son and daughter, or brothers of the King Father in case of Samdech Chea Sim and Heng Samrin but because HM the King has got noble characteristics and qualifications for the position and for our people to give HM their supports. Leaders of CPP would not be appeased as long as there is no proper and clear explanation.
Whether HE Khek Vandi did or did not intend, two possibilities arise. First, it intends to create uneasiness between the CPP leadership and HM the King or the split between the Monarchic institutions and the legislative and executive institutions. Secondly, it could be an intention to sour the relationship between HM the King with the Heroic King Father. CPP had in the past sacked two of its Senators – one for making comments and the other for writing articles that affected HM the King in the first term of the Senate. If CPP were to give no heed to this how could HM the King feel about it? Would not it be said that CPP keeps those members who insulted HM the King?
I wish to appeal to everyone to leave the King Father, the Queen Mother and HM the King in peace so that HM could help with the state matters for the sake of our country and people. CPP would not hesitate to sack again those who HE Khek Vandi would assure us that they made such remarks.