Enigmatic Pen Pal of Retired King Returns to Chastise Media

Resurfacing after more than a year of silence, Ruom Ritt, the controversial pen pal of retired King Norodom Sihanouk, issued a letter to his longtime friend on the occasion of his abdication.

Known for his previous re­bukes of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the outspoken Ruom Ritt this time took aim at Western journalists for recent articles critical of Norodom Sihanouk.

According to their articles, he wrote: “We are very relieved…that finally, we are rid of the ‘terrible,’ ‘flamboyant,’ ‘unpredictable,’ ‘fanciful’ Norodom Sihanouk, who was an evil Ogre, a bad Yeaksa [or giant] who, for 60 years (sic!), does not cease to give nightmares to one and the others.”

He added that foreign repor­ters “pretend even that now Cam­bodians are trying to forget this Si­hanouk and the monarchy that he has embodied.” His letter, dated Monday, was posted on the retired king’s Web site Wednes­day.

In the past, some have claimed that Noro­dom Si­hanouk writes the letters under the pseu­donym Ruom Ritt, but the re­tired king has denied the charge. Ruom Ritt’s let­ters were last made public in April 2003, after which Norodom Sihanouk censored his pen pal, saying his letters were causing “major problems.”

He did not specify what those problems were, but Ruom Ritt had long attacked Hun Sen’s government before he was silenced.

Ruom Ritt reportedly writes from the Pyre­nees mountains in France, but, in his letters, has keenly followed the details of events in Cambodia.

His latest message echoed Norodom Siha­nouk’s sentiments expressed in a statement earlier this month, in which the retired king lamented that some journalists were taking a “sadistic” pleasure in criticizing his reign. Over the years, the 81-year-old monarch has taken great care to compile letters and statements documenting his role in the country’s history.

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