King Norodom Sihanouk declared there are limits to royal influence over the Cambodian government in an open letter Thursday to US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.
The US legislator has accused Second Prime Minister Hun Sen of crimes against humanity and the CPP-dominated administration of human rights abuses.
Thanking Rohrabacher for birthday greetings, the King also said he has only moral authority over Cambodians. “According to [the Cambodian] Constitution, ‘the King reigns but does not govern,’” the King wrote. “If it gives me the right to express myself in terms of the great problems which concern my country, it excludes from me the exercise of all executive power.”
He stressed support for human rights and democracy, but said the government and those who aspire to public office don’t always follow his suggestions.
The King also reproached the Cambodian administration for neglecting to combat illegal logging. “The present government must assume the fight—[presently] non-existent—against this catastrophic deforestation. It is false to say Cambodia no longer has a government,” the King said.
The King’s response was at the end of an article by the French-language newspaper Cambodge Soir on the illegal cutting of 500 hectares at Bokor National Park. Environmental officials in the article said logging would stop when a new government forms. The article said provincial authorities don’t take the initiative because they are uncertain whether a new government will replace them.