Prince Norodom Ranariddh on Tuesday called for the replacement of Royal Palace Minister Kong Som Ol, stating that the palace’s top position should be occupied by a politically-neutral individual.
Prince Ranariddh, Funcinpec leader and National Assembly president, said Kong Som Ol, a high-ranking CPP member, compromised the palace’s neutrality, and said he wants King Norodom Sihamoni to replace him with a new assistant.
“Twice I told [King Sihamoni] in Beijing about the case [of Kong Som Ol], but whether or not he will listen to me, it is up to the King,” Prince Ranariddh told reporters outside the Assembly. “As the retired King Norodom Sihanouk has talked about the political neutrality of the Royal Palace institution, so the [palace minister] should be a candidate irrelevant to political parties.”
Prince Ranariddh also criticized Kong Som Ol’s distribution of Norodom Sihanouk’s donations to the poor during last year’s election campaign, when he stood as a CPP candidate for Kompong Chhnang province. “He didn’t use his [gifts] but the King’s donations….This was not appropriate that he gave such gifts while a CPP electoral candidate,” he said.
Kong Som Ol could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
But government and CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith defended the palace minister while noting that his posting was an internal affair of the Royal Palace. “Please list all the mistakes made by Kong Som Ol and send it to the media,” he said. “We now have a new king, so let’s leave it to him.”
Prince Ranariddh’s also commented on Tuesday’s removal of Royal Palace Security Police Chief Dem Saroeun.
The prince said Monday that he asked Prince Norodom Sirivudh, co-minister of interior, to check why the security chief shut the Royal Palace gates as his own car waited to enter. Prince Ranariddh said Tuesday: “He was very impolite. I think there must have been someone behind this, for him to be so impolite.”
Dem Saroeun, who denies any wrongdoing, was reassigned to the Interior Ministry’s Personnel Department, Deputy Director General of National Police Sau Phan said Tuesday.