If a Republican Can Be a Samdech, Why Not CPP Leaders?

On granting the title of “Samdech” to His Excellency Sar Kheng and His Excellency Say Chhum, Son Soubert, the son of Samdech Bovor Setha Son Sann, said that he believed the granting of the title was a reflection of the internal politics of the CPP rather than service to the nation (“Sar Kheng, Say Chhum Given ‘Samdech’ Title,” June 15).

Under King Norodom Sihanouk, only three officials, namely Samdech Son Sann, Samdech Penn Nouth and Samdech Nhiek Tioulong were named “Samdech,” said Mr. Soubert. The title was only granted to those who made key contributions to the throne and demonstrated loyalty to the king and the kingdom, he continued.

As a reader, I view Mr. Soubert’s assertions as follows:

1. The assertion made by Mr. Soubert contradicts the content of the royal decree and is only meant to disrespect the king’s decision.

2. Mr. Soubert’s view that “today there are too many Samdechs” is narrow-minded, implying jealousy of senior political compatriots.

3. According to history, after the defeat of Democratic Kampuchea, Samdech Son Sann invited King Sihanouk to lead his Khmer People’s National Liberation Front (KPNLF), but the king refused and needed no support from him as the king knew that the former used to betray the throne. Moreover, prior to the Paris Peace Agreement, Samdech Son Sann did not join Funcinpec, which was led by the king, and transformed the KPNLF into the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party to compete in the 1993 election, with the goal of leading Cambodia to be a republic.

General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman, Ministry of Interior

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