In his eighth open letter to the media issued Thursday, King Norodom Sihanouk took a break from direct criticism of the book “Warrior Prince” to offer an explanation for the criticism itself, saying he doesn’t want to pick fights with his son or the author of his son’s biography.
“I am writing these successive points…not to quarrel with Samdech Norodom Ranariddh and Mr Harish Mehta, but for my compatriots (young and old), for foreigners fond of justice, objectivity and truth, and for the equitable judgment of history,” the King wrote.
He then gave his version of two topics discussed in Mehta’s book: His Royal Palace “war games” and the personal aid he received from China and North Korea after the Khmer Rouge years.
The book states that “Sihanouk was fond of playing war games in the palace gardens in Phnom Penh, using models of tanks and ships specially built for the purpose. [He] reveled in the all-night games that were, at once, a social event and crash course in history rolled into one.”
The King said his model military theater at the Royal Palace was designed after a tactical classroom at a famous cavalry school in France, where he had studied in the 1940s. He said he used the models to prepare for a number of military operations.
“My ‘war games’ prepared me to take effective command of my army throughout the Kingdom and to defend and safeguard the independence and the territorial integrity of my homeland,” he wrote.
The King also took issue with a claim in “Warrior Prince” that he received “politically incorrect” financial assistance from North Korea and the People’s Republic of China after he was ousted from power in 1970.
“I did not have a fortune,” he wrote. “I therefore accepted nourishment and lodging, but did not accept any salary, ‘personal budget,’ nor ‘money-box’ from the PRC or the Korean People’s Democratic Republic.”
The King and his son, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, on Wednesday exchanged letters of reconciliation over the affair.