Retired King Norodom Sihanouk on Saturday denied there was any ill will between himself and Prime Minister Hun Sen and said that the two have always shared a “profound affection.”
Writing in a letter posted to his Web site and dated Saturday, the retired King also criticized unnamed “political elites” for insinuating that he and the prime minister have had heated exchanges that were damaging the unity and stability of Cambodia.
“Samdech Hun Sen and I have always, and will always, share a very profound affection,” Norodom Sihanouk wrote. “And until the end of my life, I will always remain his supporter.”
In a speech broadcast on TVK on Sunday, the retired King said he and the prime minister had met over the weekend and discussed political stability.
The prime minister in recent months has been critical of the retired King’s activities as chair of the Supreme National Council on Border Affairs and also criticized those who looked back with nostalgia on Norodom Sihanouk’s Sangkum Reastr Niyum regime.
In a recent Web posting the retired King said that he had been informed by unnamed sources that an unspecified “They” were preparing the armed forces to “physically arrest me, torture me and then kill me…because of certain of my writings and ‘displeasing’ words.”
But Norodom Sihanouk in the Saturday Web posting suggested that the press and unnamed “political elites” were responsible for rumors of discord between he and the prime minister and criticized them for suggesting the recent rhetoric was destabilizing the country.
“In certain articles in the press in the last few days, certain ‘political elites’ (who are not part of the Royal Government of Cambodia or of the Administration of Cambodia) have permitted themselves to give me a lesson in patriotism and in respect for the Khmer people,” the retired King wrote.
Kem Sokha, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, last week urged the prime minister and Norodom Sihanouk to resolve their differences because, he said, the Cambodian people “want peace, they want development, they don’t want more conflict.”
The retired King, quoting Kem Sokha, but not mentioning him by name, said: “I don’t need to receive such a lesson in patriotism…because I was not born yesterday and History itself recognizes my patriotism and the fact that the vast majority of People have always loved me, clearly recognizing that I have always served them and continue to serve them with fidelity and passion.”
Kem Sokha, a former Funcinpec parliamentarian, declined Sunday to comment on Norodom Sihanouk’s words, but he welcomed the news of the meeting between the retired King and the prime minister.
“It’s good,” he said. “They are both Cambodian. They should meet together as leaders and solve the problems of the people.”
Sok Sam Oeun, head of the Cambodian Defenders Project, agreed.
“It is better,” he said. “I don’t think conflict is good. I don’t want to see conflict.”
He also suggested that Hun Sen should bring his power together with the retired King’s popularity and experience to better govern the country.
“A good leader is one who knows how to use his resources,” he said.
In another Web posting written in the margins of a news article, the retired King responded to allegations that Ruom Ritt may not exist because no photo of him has been released and because the retired King has never divulged his address in France.
“Ngim Chhorn (who lives in France) knows the address of Mr Ruom Ritt,” Norodom Sihanouk wrote.
Contact information for Ngim Chhorn could not be found Sunday.
Khek Sysoda, chief of royal protocol, said Sunday that Ngim Chhorn lives in or around Paris but that she did not know exactly where.
(Additional reporting by Van Roeun and Thet Sambath)