Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who is once again at the helm of the royalist Funcinpec party, hosted a four-hour event on Friday morning for about 400 young supporters, treating them to breakfast and snacks, a brief dance party and a few musical numbers.
The 71-year-old prince, who became Funcinpec’s leader again in January after being ousted in 2006, kicked off the event at the Phnom Penh Hotel by playing a video montage of his political achievements for the teenage and twenty-something attendees, who were given a breakfast of pork buns and water.
In a speech, he explained to them that Funcinpec was no longer striving to be an opposition voice in government, but rather to promote national unity, particularly given the recent struggles of the opposition CNRP.
“I do not hope that my Funcinpec party becomes an opposition party to replace the [CNRP]…. I will absolutely not do it,” the prince said. “We cannot solve national problems unless we Khmers join together.”
He also noted that his own experience in striking power-sharing agreements with the CPP—which saw his party gradually marginalized over the course of the 1990s and 2000s—might be relevant to today’s political scene.
“My first major goal is to show the youths about the activities I carried out to serve the country in regard to the problem of sharing power,” he said.
Prince Ranariddh then treated the young audience to his own rendition of two songs: “Chumno Vicheka,” a romantic composition by his father, the late King Norodom Sihanouk, and a promotional tune for Funcinpec that lauded the country’s tradition of royalist politics.
Then the group launched into a dance party, with the prince gyrating alongside his wife, former classical dancer Ouk Phalla, to the strains of popular songs whose lyrics had been rewritten to praise Funcinpec.
Attendee Loch Lina, a 25-year-old university student, said she was a die-hard Funcinpec fan, largely because her parents were also ardent royalists.
“I joined the Funcinpec youth because I think this party’s policy is good, and especially because my parents have been members of this party for a long time,” she said.
For the 2018 election, she added, “I will try to convince my friends to join us.”