Apology Demanded for Anti-Sihanouk Songs

Retired King Norodom Siha­nouk’s official biographer on Thurs­day called on the government body responsible for airing anti-Sihanouk songs on national radio and television last year to apologize.

The apology would allow the former King to return to Cambodia and prove that the government is serious about political reform, and not simply engaged in theatrics ahead of the Consultative Group donors’ meeting in March, he said.

“Would the government authority who ordered the playing of the 1970 anti-Sihanouk songs…kindly apologize to His Majesty the King-Father in order that the founder of modern Cambodia and Father of Cam­bodia’s independence can re­turn to his homeland,” Julio Jeldres wrote from Melbourne, Australia.

He added that it was encouraging to note the recent political maturity of Cambodia’s elite, and their cooperation for the benefit of Cam­bodia’s poor.

“Let us hope that this process is an ongoing one and that it will help to build the solid foundations for a permanent democratic regime,” he said.

The Lon Nol-era songs, accompanied by on-screen lyrics, were broadcast in October around the time that Prime Minister Hun Sen made a blistering speech threatening to dismantle the monarchy.

Government spokesman and In­for­mation Minister Khieu Kanha­rith accused Jeldres of being an in­terfering foreigner.

“Khmers should solve Khmer is­sues. He is not Khmer. Foreigners should not interfere in Cambodia,” he said.

He called Jeldres a “communist” and accused him of insulting the retired King himself.

Sok Ey San, the director of Ap­sa­ra Television, which broadcast the songs, said he would not apologize.

“There is nothing to apologize for,” he said.

Apsara broadcast the songs to re­mind the public that Lon Nol stag­ed a coup against Norodom Siha­nouk after accusing him of ceding land to Vietnam, and that the same ac­­cusa­tions were then being made against Hun Sen by critics, he added.


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