Retired King Norodom Sihanouk described Funcinpec as a “miniscule” party staffed with former Lon Nol supporters in a message posted on his Web site on Tuesday.
“The sad reality is that FUNCINPEC is a (miniscule) party of former Khmer Republican-Lon-nolians. Bravo??” Norodom Sihanouk wrote of the party he founded in 1981, but from which he has since distanced himself.
The retired King was responding to comments made late last month by Funcinpec lawmaker Khieu San, who, after being admonished in the National Assembly for calling Taiwan a country, said he had been sent to Taiwan in 1973 by the Lon Nol regime for a year of military training.
Lon Nol overthrew then-Prince Sihanouk in a coup in 1970.
“Thus he has refused to call TAIWAN the ‘island province belonging to the PR of China’ but instead calls it the ‘country,’ that is, the ‘country called Taiwan,’!” Norodom Sihanouk, who has close ties to China, wrote of Khieu San’s time in Taiwan.
Contacted by telephone, Khieu San said he regretted his choice of words.
“I apologize,” he said. “It’s not a country, it’s an island. I agree.”
He added that despite his previous involvement in the Lon Nol regime, he is devoted to Norodom Sihanouk.
“Funcinpec is founded by His Majesty the King, Norodom Sihanouk. I love him most of all,” Khieu San said.
Funcinpec lawmaker Monh Saphan said he has noticed that Funcinpec officials who used to serve under Lon Nol have gone on to comply with the royalist party’s policies.
“They joined the royalist party because they like the royalist party,” he said.
Funcinpec Minister of Rural Development Lu Laysreng, who was elected to the National Assembly under Lon Nol, said people had no choice but to serve the regime, as Lon Nol was the man in charge.
“At that time it was the Lon Nol regime, so people under Lon Nol were Lon-Nolians,” he said.