Prince Norodom Ranariddh, 70, called on about 300 youth on Sunday to spread the word about his new Community of Royalist People Party, promising to create more jobs if his party comes to power in the next national election.
At an event at Phnom Penh’s Sunway Hotel, Prince Ranariddh noted the recent return of tens of thousands of Cambodian workers from Thailand, where they had migrated for better jobs and more money.
“Joblessness is an injustice. We have to join together to resolve this,” the prince told hundreds of youth from across the country, who were given transport, lunch and a small cash gift for attending the event.
“I think that jobs are very important for youth,” he added.
Prince Ranariddh also promised that, in the event he does not win the next national election, he would not defect to either of the country’s major political parties.
“My basic principle is royalist and nationalist and I would not join with the CPP or CNRP if I do not win the election in 2018,” the prince said.
Youth who attended the event said they were convinced by Prince Ranariddh’s pitch, which lasted for about three hours and included a slideshow highlighting his involvement in the royalist political movement led by his father, the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk.
Lay Eng, 17, from Kompong Cham province, said that she had joined the event at the behest of her grandfather, but liked what she heard from the prince.
“We think that he is a good leader and we hope that he will be able to help the poor,” she said.
Len Kimchanlida, 26, said she took to heart Prince Ranariddh’s message that if it weren’t for the royal family’s role in the process that led to the 1991 Paris Peace Accord, modern-day Cambodia would not exist.
“I looked at Ranariddh this morning. He is old and speaks for a long time,” she said. “But he looked honest when he called for the young people to join with him to protect the country.”