King Norodom Sihanouk has recanted his harsh criticism of Cambodia’s Ambassador to the US Roland Eng, saying he was “too unfair” in accusing Eng of “national treason.”
“I have never liked unfairness, regardless of whence it comes,” the King wrote in a statement dated 11:30 pm Monday.
“Besides, as a human being, I ought not be considered ‘infallible’ like a Deva-Raja (God-King),” King Sihanouk wrote.
Cambodia’s 1993 Constitution states that the King is “inviolable” and may not be criticized.
The King’s Monday missive claims “members of my family” suggested he tone down his earlier diatribe. “I thus have the honor to bring to the attention of my well-loved compatriots and esteemed foreign friends the following: I withdraw from my aforementioned annotation my words referring to [His Excellency] Mister Roland Eng’s ‘national treason.’”
The statement does not rescind the rest of King Sihanouk’s criticisms of Eng. In the Feb 6 letter in question, the King packed the margins of a Jan 30 letter from Eng to his Thai counterpart with the monarch’s scrawl.
In his letter to Thai Ambassador to Washington Sakthip Krairiksh, Eng expressed apologies and called the behavior of the Jan 29 anti-Thai rioters in Phnom Penh “uncivilized.”
King Sihanouk said Eng “took the initiative to abase himself, to prostrate himself before the Thai Ambassador and his Wife, to lick their feet, humiliating and dragging through the mud his own compatriots, his own race.”
Eng was also reprimanded more gently for the letter by Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.
Last week, King Sihanouk declared that he did not wish Eng—the brother of the King’s daughter-in-law Princess Norodom Marie Ranariddh—to be punished for the letter.
The King and Queen Norodom Monineath Sihanouk are to leave sometime soon for Beijing for routine medical treatment, according to a statement from the Royal Palace Tuesday. The royal couple, who keep a residence in the Chinese capital, frequently leave Cambodia for months at a time. In the palace statement, the King pledged to return to his subjects before Khmer New Year, which this year falls on April 13.