Retired King, Pen Pal, To Cease Political Prose

Retired King Norodom Siha­nouk and his enigmatic pen pal Ruom Ritt will no longer write mes­­­sages that involve themselves in Cambodian politics, the retired King wrote in a letter dated Thurs­day and posted on his Web site.

“Mr RUOM RITT and I, who have ‘produced’ some ‘displeasing’ texts, and who, for that, have ‘re­ceived on the head’ some ‘atomic bombs,’ have decided to no longer write texts” of a political nature, No­­rodom Sihanouk wrote.

The decision is not prompted by cow­ardice, but by the fact that the pair “are very old and sick,” the retired King wrote, adding that they are hop­ing for “as much as possible, a nat­ural death.”

The retired king did not mention the border in his letter, but re­cent calls to empower the Su­preme National Council on Border Af­fairs, which he heads, have enraged Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The former King has encouraged students and activists to re­port cases of border encroachment to him and has posted their findings on his Web site, criticizing the government for not doing enough to protect Cambodian ter­ri­tory. Speaking to reporters at the Coun­cil of Ministers on Friday, Hun Sen said the su­preme na­tion­al council was only a consultative body on border af­fairs.

He added that his own appointment as president of the Na­tion­al Authority on Border Affairs is not a “coup d’etat” against No­ro­dom Sihanouk’s council. Those seek­ing the empowerment of that coun­cil “are pitiful be­cause they are so stupid,” he said.

On June 18, Hun Sen warned an over­seas “Sisowath Royalist” and would-be rebels to “prepare cof­fins” because he will “smash” them if they try to use the border issue to weaken his pow­er.

Asked if he thought the threat was aimed at him, Prince Sisowath Thomico wrote in an e-mail from France on Wednesday: “If [Hun Sen] was not re­ferring to me, would you have writ­ten to me?” Prince Thomico said he was “not at all” worried by the comments.


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