King Lambastes Book on Son

King Norodom Sihanouk continued his attacks against a new biography of his son, Prince Noro­dom Ranariddh, a book the king says is “deforming” the historical record and smearing his wife.

In his fourth letter to the public regarding “Warrior Prince: Noro­dom Ranariddh, son of King Sihanouk of Cambodia,” by Harish Mehta, Sihanouk accuses the author of taking “the part of the Americans against me, thus deforming out of necessity historical facts that are perfectly established.”

In the book, Mehta attributes the 1970 coup by Lon Nol, whose government was propped up by the US, to “Sihanouk’s highly flammable foreign policy of forging an alliance with North Viet­namese Communists.”

Mehta called the King a “socialist” who “was a prisoner of his leftist ideology in whose blind pursuit he nationalized foreign trade” and who “reacted with unforgivable helplessness” as Cambodia’s economy declined and the country was sucked into the War in Vietnam.

In his letter, King Sihanouk says his rule, in fact, “gave a great deal of prestige and dignity to our nation, our race, and our people: We counted on ourselves for developing our country and all the domains of our national edification, we didn’t ask foreigners to give us loans and donations, we were not a beggar state nor a beggar people.”

The book, largely based on 18 hours of interviews with Prince Ranariddh after he fled Cambodia in the wake of the 1997 factional fighting, initially drew fire from the King for characterizing him as a cold and distant father who discouraged his son from challenging Prime Minister Hun Sen in the 1993 elections.

The King also takes issue with Mehta for implying Queen Noro­dom Monineath “has Viet­na­mese blood in her veins, knowing that among my compatriots there are those who are Viet­namophobes.”

The book has also come under fire from Funcinpec, which claims it is creating divisions within the royal family.

 

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