Pagoda Boys Call for Investigation of Letter

The Pagoda Children, Intelli­gentsia and Students’ Associ­ation—better know as the pro-Hun Sen Pagoda Boys—on Mon­day called for authorities to apprehend the author of a letter critical of the monarchy that was falsely distributed on their behalf to news organizations last week.

Branding the letter a forgery and an attempt to cause turmoil before the July 27 general elections, the association said the author wanted to sow “confusion” about its organization and Hun Sen’s relationship with King Norodom Sihanouk.

Funcinpec parliamentarian Ok Socheat sent a request to the Interior Ministry on Thursday calling for an investigation of the Pagoda Boys association, and arrests, following the distribution of the letter signed by someone calling himself Ruom Rik, on be­half of the association.

“[The Pagoda Boys’ association] considers that any individual or group who uses Ruom Rik’s name have the poisonous intention to attack and forge the letter in order to ruin [the association’s] image and dignity,” according to a statement released on Sunday.

“The steering committee of the [Pagoda Boys] would like to clarify for the public, and deny, abso­lutely, that we have Ruom Rik in our association,” the statement said. The author of the alleged for­gery wants to “create public confusion over Prime Minister Hun Sen’s relationships with the King,” the Pagoda Boys said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Monday that police are investigating the letter.

“We have no result yet, but we want to send [the culprits] to justice,” said Khieu Sopheak, adding that the government was committed to protecting the monarchy.

According to a copy of the critical letter that appeared in a newspaper on Friday, the authors warned King Sihanouk’s childhood friend, Ruom Ritt, to cease criticizing the prime minister or face the consequences.

“Some people have said that Ruom Ritt is the Cambodian King. To the Pagoda Boys’ association, no matter who Ruom Ritt is, we have a strong stance to protect the dignity of Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen,” the letter stated.

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