A brother and sister of Queen Norodom Monineath have called on the government to take legal action against a pro-SRP newspaper which they accuse of insulting both the Queen and retired King Norodom Sihanouk, state-run TVK announced.
The call appeared in a statement attributed to Senator Oum Mannorine and Oum Sophanith read out on TVK on Monday evening.
“We…who are the brother and sister of the Queen, the mother of [King] Norodom Sihamoni, are distressed and annoyed with the insulting words which are against the profession’s code of ethics,” the statement said.
The call followed the former King’s announcement Sunday that he planned to sue the newspaper Sralanh Khmer for printing two front-page articles Thursday and Friday that contained strong allegations about the actions of Norodom Sihanouk and Prime Minister Hun Sen during the Khmer Rouge regime and their and the Queen’s links to foreign countries.
“We appeal to the Information Ministry…to take legal measures under the law of the Kingdom of Cambodia against any individuals involved with the articles,” said the statement of Oum Mannorine and Oum Sophanith who are half-brother and half-sister of the Queen.
The Information Ministry issued a letter Tuesday to Thach Keth, publisher of Sralanh Khmer, asking him to print the statement on the paper’s front page.
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said that if the statement were printed, the government would take no further action in the matter as the former King’s planned lawsuit alone would suffice.
“The [retired] King asked the palace to file a lawsuit and that’s why there’s no need to kick down an open door,” he said.
Thach Keth said he would agree to publish a retraction and apology. “If they want me to run a correction, I will do it,” he said, adding that he had never intended to insult anyone. “If they sue me, I don’t know what I’ll do,” he said.
The Norodom Ranariddh Party also denounced the articles Monday in a statement claiming that Thach Keth is an SRP official and suggesting that the SRP may have been aware of the articles’ publication in advance.
Prince Sisowath Thomico, leader of the Sangkum Jatiniyum Front Party and a nephew of the Queen, said he suspected the CPP and SRP of colluding in an effort to damage the monarchy through the articles. “They want to weaken the royalist movement in Cambodia,” he claimed.
Thach Keth denied that he held any position in the SRP or that the party had any involvement in his editorial decisions.
“[SRP leader] Sam Rainsy didn’t order me to print it. I did it by myself,” he said. “The party didn’t do anything.”
Sam Rainsy agreed.
“I am in no way involved, and people are free to publish what they choose. I control nobody’s pen,” he said, adding that he firmly condemned the articles and stood by Norodom Sihanouk. “I will support whatever the King Father decides to do.”
Khieu Kanharith also dismissed allegations of CPP connivance in the incident.
“If they say that, then they did not read the article,” he said. “The article is also critical of Hun Sen.”