In what has become a daily ritual, King Norodom Sihanouk issued another letter Tuesday attacking a biography of his son, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, this time disputing an account of his role in Cambodia’s crusade for independence from France.
“In the book in question,” the King writes, “it is claimed, with much injustice to my regard, that, in the last years of the 1940s, I ‘was firmly opposed to the efforts…in favor of independence.’”
The book, “Warrior Prince” by Bangkok-based author-journalist Harish Mehta, states that after he was crowned by the French in 1941, “Sihanouk remained loyal to the colonialists for eleven years, and would only launch his royal crusade for independence as late as 1952. Till then, the royal family chose to remain close to the French, and basked under their protection.”
The King disagrees.
“This is altogether contrary to the truth,” he wrote. “Between 1946 and 1952, I did not remain ‘inactive.’ In truth, I did not cease my action with France to… advance Cambodia along the way to total independence,” the King writes.
The biography refers to pro-independence efforts in the late 1940s from Princes Norodom Montana and Norodom Norindeth, and says the King was opposed to these efforts.
Mehta quotes Prince Ranariddh as saying: “Except those few princes…we did not have any sentiments against France.”
In this sixth letter, written in both Khmer and French, the King writes these princes “did not show any sign of will and even less action towards the country’s independence and, on the other hand, were even ‘francophiles’ and still very young. I could not neglect my Kingly work for Cambodians, work that consisted in recovering for our homeland and our nation their lost independence.”
Also Tuesday, opposition parliamentarian Sam Rainsy issued a news release accusing the government of applying “double standards” for banning his book “Light of Cambodia” and not “Warrior Prince.”