As he passed out water pumps to provincial representatives at the Royal Palace Saturday, King Norodom Sihanouk announced that his health was failing, saying he was “not only physically old but also having poor health.”
“When I go somewhere, I feel tired and dizzy and want to fall,” King Sihanouk told the 88 representatives in an event broadcast on national television Sunday. “This is why I have somebody carry me.”
King Sihanouk, who turns 77 on Oct 31, has had two strokes and suffers from diabetes. In 1993, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. It has since gone into remission.
He returned from Beijing at the end of August after a two-month stay to receive medical treatment for diabetes and high blood pressure. His physicians have recommended that the King go to China every two months for medical checkups.
King Sihanouk also said he has been having periodic convulsions, which have forced him to cut back on public appearances.
“I am not as strong as I was before. This is why I am not able to work on your farm in the provinces,” the King said during the water-pump distribution event. “I beg you, please use these pumps to help the real poor farmers, not the rich.”
The provincial representatives from Kandal, Kompong Cham, Kompong Chhnang, Kratie, Prey Veng, Siem Reap, Svay Rieng and Takeo were given 26 water pumps to distribute to poor farmers. Another 28 pumps will be distributed later. The pumps were donated by South Korea.
The question of who will succeed the King, who has eight sons, still hasn’t been settled.
Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the King’s son, and Prince Norodom Sirivudh, the King’s half-brother, are said to be to candidates for succession.
Both princes have clashed with Prime Minister Hun Sen and were briefly exiled.
Another possibility is Prince Norodom Sihamoni, a ballet dancer who has not been involved in politics.