Retired King Norodom Sihanouk is in no immediate danger of being arrested, tortured and killed, as he suggested in a recent posting to his Web site, but he is in danger of creating a war of words with Prime Minister Hun Sen, government officials, political observers and NGOs said Monday.
The retired King, in a posting to his Web site on Friday, said unnamed forces were plotting to kill him. “‘They’ are in the process of preparing our Armed Forces to one day attack me—physically arrest me, torture me and then kill me…because of certain of my writings and ‘displeasing’ words,” he wrote.
“We don’t have evidence of this,” Meas Sophea, deputy commander-in-chief of the RCAF, said Monday.
Heng Samrin, honorary president of the CPP, also denied Monday that any group was plotting to kill Norodom Sihanouk.
“No group forms this armed force,” said Heng Samrin. “We have tried to protect him.”
Several NGO officials suggested that the hostile rhetoric between the retired King and Prime Minister Hun Sen is the real issue.
The prime minister has been intensely critical of the retired King’s activities as head of the Supreme National Council on Border Affairs and has also blasted the policies of his Sangkum Reastr Niyum regime.
In an April 4 speech, he criticized the retired King’s pen pal, Ruom Ritt, complaining that Ruom Ritt’s letters only mention good things about the Sangkum Reastr Niyum and never mention the deaths of political activists such as Preap In during the period.
“If Ruom Ritt writes more, I will air the execution of Preap In…on television,” Hun Sen said in the speech.
Thun Saray, president of rights group Adhoc, said he didn’t think the retired King would ever be being arrested and killed. “I think it’s only polemic,” he said.
He suggested the retired King and prime minister meet face to face to settle their differences.
Kem Sokha, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, also suggested the two meet and resolve their differences.
“I think the tension between the former King and the prime minister is very strong in the last few months,” he said. “I don’t want more problems for the Cambodian people…. The people now, they want peace, they want development, they don’t want more conflict.”
Responding to the prime minister’s criticisms about the Preap In affair, which has garnered much attention in the Khmer-language media, the retired King also alleged that an unnamed “they” were blaming all the country’s problems on him.
“At the present moment, ‘they’ are making unbelievable efforts to ‘sink’ me by attributing every imaginable sin to me,” the retired King wrote.
Norodom Sihanouk also claimed that he could not be accused of assassinating Preap In because Preap In was tried before a military court according to the law and because capital punishment at the time was legal.
“The military Tribunal of the 1st Kingdom of Cambodia condemned, according to the law, Mr Preap In to capital punishment,” the retired King wrote.
Norodom Sihanouk also alleged that Preap In had “engaged in treasonous activities that benefited US Imperialism, the US CIA and the pro-US Regime in Saigon.”
In another Web posting, also dated on Friday, the retired King pledged he would die in Cambodia among his people.
“Without having first been submitted to torture, insults and humiliations?” he wrote.
Prince Sisowath Sirirath, a Funcinpec senator, on Monday praised Norodom Sihanouk and defended his record as a leader.
“If we compare it to other regimes, none is as good as his was,” Prince Sirirath said. “The Khmer people should unite and support former King Norodom Sihanouk.”
“Preap In himself confessed his betrayal,” he added.