Although King Norodom Sihanouk requested earlier this month that admirers not send him birthday greetings, celebrations in honor of his birthday will be bigger than ever, Mann Chhouen, chief of the municipal Cabinet, said Wednesday.
The King turns 81 on Friday, and his birthday coincides with elaborate preparations for the 50th anniversary of Cambodia’s Independence, Nov 9, Mann Chhouen said.
It also serves as an informal lead-in to the Water Festival, which runs from Nov 7 to Nov 9.
TVK has been airing the King’s films in honor of his birthday twice a week since early October, Ieu Pannasidh, the station’s deputy director general said Wednesday.
The channel does not normally start showing the films until the day before his birthday, he said. The channel will air five of the King’s films between today and Saturday, alongside blessings and documentaries about the King.
“The King has a lot of movies, so we can’t broadcast them all on three days.” Ieu Pannasidh said Wednesday. “This year we have prepared our program in advance,” he said. The films are still very popular, he added.
The first of the films to air today, at 1 pm, is “Aspara.” It was directed by the King and stars Prince Norodom Narindrapong, Ieu Pannasidh said. The prince died in Paris on Oct 8.
Khieu Kanharith, the CPP’s spokesman, paid tribute to the King on Wednesday. “The King is the one who can ensure stability,” he said. But the CPP won’t be sending the King their usual letter of congratulation, in accordance with the King’s request, he said.
The ongoing political deadlock, preventing the formation of a new government, should not be allowed to intrude on the celebrations, Sam Rainsy said Wednesday. “I don’t want to associate the political situation with the King’s birthday,” he said. “He is entitled to his birthday—he has his own life.”
A Sam Rainsy Party delegation will attend a ceremony at Funcinpec headquarters today, he said. Prince Norodom Ranariddh, president of Funcinpec and a son of the King, will also attend the celebration, the royalist spokesman, Kassie Neou, said. The event, which will feature a Buddhist ceremony in the morning and live music in the afternoon, is open to the public, he said.
Phnom Penh’s main streets and public parks have been decked out with lights for the birthday celebration, said Nuon Someth, municipal vice chief of Cabinet. A live concert is scheduled today from 6 pm to 9 pm at Wat Phnom, he added.
About 40 portraits of the King have been erected around the city, a palace spokesperson said. They feature images of the King and Queen Norodom Monineath, the King saluting in uniform and the King striding through the countryside and pointing into the distance.
Por Phearum, 37, cleans the grass behind one of the King’s portraits at Independence Monument. “I saw him in action movies about his achievements,” he said. “He’s a brave man.”
He said he hoped that the King would solve the government deadlock as soon as possible. “The King won’t let this country collapse,” he said. “All the King’s attitudes are good, both in reality and performance…. He is a model for all Cambodians.”