King Norodom Sihanouk tarred the Royal Palace minister as a CPP partisan in a statement Monday.
In the statement titled “Text for History,” the King wrote: “In effect, Kong Som Ol was, upon my 1991 return to Cambodia, named minister of the Royal Palace by Hun Sen’s government, in addition to his position as vice prime minister” in the government.
“I always knew that Kong Som Ol was not a Sihanoukist and very anti-SRN,” the King wrote, referring to Sangkum Reastr Niyum, the king’s royal government of the 1950s and 1960s. But, the letter continued, as the “father of the nation and of national reconciliation,” it would be improper to reject the nomination.
In the remainder of the letter, the King distances himself further from the CPP. Though he acknowledged that the party paid for the restoration of the Royal Palace and returned to him a complex in Chamkar Mon district (now used by the Senate), residences in Battambang, Siem Reap and Kep, and the house where he was born, the King said, “As for finances, I have accepted nothing from the CPP or from Hun Sen’s government.”
The statement comes a few days after Julio Jeldres, the King’s official biographer, wrote in the Asia Times that Kong Som Ol had tried to “trick” the King into opening the National Assembly, which would have conferred greater legitimacy on the ceremony attended only by CPP parliamentarians.
A royal Cabinet official, Ministry of Information Secretary of State and CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith, and Jeldres all declined to comment on the King’s letter.
In the three-page letter, the King also defends his withdrawal from public life on account of illnesses. Despite these impediments, the King’s letter beams with confidence about his place in history. “Cambodia’s little people have never wanted for intelligence,” he wrote.
(Additional reporting by Kuch Naren)