King’s Web Site a Popular Store of Information

The Web site of King Noro­dom Sihanouk—where the King expounds on everything from the current political crisis to his self-written songs—is growing more popular, Royal Palace officials say.

The site receives up to 2,000 visitors a day, a significant in­crease from the 300 “hits” averaged in June, said Chhorn Hay, secretary-general of the Royal Palace.

Littered with strangely placed apostrophes, the King’s writings range from political to historical to humorous. He has at times written about the fighting in the Israeli-controlled Palestinian territories and then turned his attention to the beauty of Cambodia’s “modern women.”

But most of his writings ad­dress his rule during the Sang­kum Reastr Niyum regime in the 1950s and 1960s. The King wants people to remember brighter per­i­ods of national history, Chhorn Hay said.

“Cambodia has become one of the poorest countries in the world, but during Sangkum Reastr Niyum, Khmer people were very proud of themselves,” he said.

Chhorn Hay helps post the King’s messages, most of which are handwritten in French. Al­most daily, the King spends be­tween five and 15 minutes writing at least one message for the site, Chhorn Hay said.

“He explains about the territory and the history, because, so far, there are a lot of people with ex­ag­ger­ated or wrong information,” he said. “Through the site, the world and especially Cambodian people living overseas can understand the current situation here.”

Chhorn Hay said the King will continue his commentary and counsel through the site after he leaves for Beijing later this month. That’s crucial for local media organizations, which rely on the site for King Sihanouk’s opinions.

“The King’s messages are very important for the newspapers, because it is very difficult to get comment from the King,” said Pen Samithy, editor-in-chief of Rasmei Kampuchea (Light of Cambodia) newspaper.

But, he added, “We don’t understand French at all. We wish the King would write his messages in the Khmer language.”

 

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