Magazine Editor Denies Anti-Royalist Agenda

The editor of the monthly magazine L’Echo du Cambodge on Wednes­day flatly denied that he had reprinted a 35-year-old movie re­view critical of retired King Noro­dom Sihanouk as part of an anti-royalist conspiracy.

“Obviously not,” said Marcel Zar­ca, when asked whether accusations leveled at him by Norodom Si­hanouk’s Special Secretary Prince Sis­owath Thomico in a Wednesday let­ter to a Phnom Penh newspaper were true.

“If I had read [the review], I would not have published it because it is critical, it’s polemical, and it’s out of place in L’Echo du Cambodge,” Zar­ca said of the decades old review.

Prince Sisowath Thomico wrote in his letter that the timing of the article’s publication—which drew threats of litigation from the retired King-was suspicious as it coincided with an “unprecedented cabal” against the royal family.

“The last person targeted, through this article dealing with the Sang­kumian era, is also its most il­lustrious representative: HM the King-Father Norodom Sihanouk,” the prince wrote, referring to the pre-war government under then-Prince Sihanouk.

“If one wanted to find pretexts for toppling the Monarchy and proclaiming a Republic, one would certainly not go about it otherwise,” he added.

In a note posted Wednesday to his Web site, Norodom Sihanouk said he had decided not to sue after be­ing reminded by Information Minister Khieu Kanharith that he had promised not do so.

“Consequently, I will not file complaints against the journalist or journalists who produce or shall produce texts, articles vilifying me or dragging me through the mud or in­sulting me dishonoring me or distorting History,” he wrote.

L’Echo carried in its April issue an article reprinted from a 1971 issue of the French daily Le Monde and which criticized “Ombres sur Ang­kor,” a 1969 film by the retired King that portrays a US plot to topple him. The review described the film as prop­aganda.

Government Spokesman and In­formation Minister Khieu Kan­ha­rith dis­missed Prince Thomico’s as­sertions. “I think he’s a bit [paranoid],” he said. “Hun Sen made a full guarantee that nobody would ever attack the monarchy,” he said. The prime minister’s threats last year to dismantle the monarchy were only a warning to royalist lawmakers, he said.

Prince Thomico said in an e-mail that he accepted Zarca’s explanations and now believed that the article’s appearance was “only a fortuitous coincidence.”


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