King Norodom Sihanouk appears to have little doubt about the outcome of July’s national elections.
“The Prime Minister of Cambodia is and will always be [His Excellency] Samdech Hun Sen,” the King wrote recently.
The comment is included in King Sihanouk’s monthly bulletin for December. The bulletin always includes a section of newspaper clippings, some with commentary in the margins. In this month’s bulletin, the King decried deforestation, political violence and the continued impunity of former Khmer Rouge leaders.
The Hun Sen comment is scrawled beneath a Dec 6 Cambodia Daily article in which CPP officials said the party had not yet chosen a candidate for prime minister.
“The situation is simpler and clearer than this article would lead one to suppose,” the King wrote in his slanting cursive.
The CPP has since announced that Hun Sen is its only candidate.
The King, who is politically neutral and considers himself the voice of the Cambodian people, bemoaned the plight of villagers who depend on forest products to live. On Dec 5, a crowd of such villagers from several provinces were allegedly brutalized by police as they demonstrated outside the Department of Forestry for access to logging companies’ management plans.
Commenting on an article about the incident, the King wrote, “Our ‘little people’ are extremely unhappy. These forests belonged to them and allowed them to live modestly.
“But these companies came to destroy their forests and likewise to destroy Cambodia. In ‘x’ years, we will have no more forests, no more elephants, no more fauna, not to speak of antiquities.”
Hun Sen has since accused forestry monitor Global Witness of fabricating the incident and is currently trying to kick the organization out of the country.
The King also appears chagrined by the recent killings of two CPP officials.
About the first, Prey Veng province commune council member Him Soeun, who was hacked to death on Dec 2, he wrote: “These super-cruel ‘killings’ constitute a tragedy for our country.”
About the second, Siem Reap province village council member Kreal Bun, who was hacked to death with his wife, Nov Uth, on Dec 11, he wrote, “Some countrymen have, alas!, adopted the inhuman methods of the Khmer Rouge.”
He added, “Our State has abolished the death penalty, but some countrymen continue, alas!, to assassinate their countrymen in a very cruel fashion.”
The King also bitterly rebuked Sam Bith, the former Khmer Rouge commander sentenced to life in prison on Dec 23 for the 1994 kidnapping and execution of three Western backpackers.
Responding to Sam Bith’s plea for leniency because of his ill health, King Sihanouk wrote, “When it came to killing innocents or torturing them to death, there were no health problems.”
In addition, the King lamented the continued freedom of former Brother No 2 Nuon Chea, who testified on behalf of Sam Bith. “The worst atrocities in universal history = absolute impunity,” he wrote.