Retired King Says He’s Too Unhealthy To Return With Son Beijing

Retired King Norodom Siha­nouk will not return to Cambodia with King Norodom Sihamoni this weekend because of his poor health, the re­tired monarch wrote in a faxed message on Tuesday.

“The beating of my pulse is more and more weak and has become im­perceptible,” Norodom Siha­nouk wrote from Beijing, “and my heart, after close examination by my eminent physicians, has proved itself to be very weak.”

“I cannot undertake the slightest journey,” he added.

King Sihamoni will return to Phnom Penh on Nov 6, Royal Pal­ace of­ficials said, though his mo­ther, Queen Norodom Moni­neath, will re­portedly stay in China with her ailing husband.

The retired King, who celebrated his 83rd birthday on Monday, left the country for medical treatment on Aug 10. Norodom Siha­nouk has nu­merous health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.

Prince Norodom Sirivudh, the co-In­terior Minister and Norodom Si­hanouk’s cousin, said on Satur­day that King Sihamoni and both his parents would return this weekend.

But Oum Daravuth, a member of the Royal Palace cabinet, said that while King Sihamoni was scheduled to return on Sunday, there was never any indication his parents would return with him.

“His Majesty, the retired King Nor­­odom Sihanouk, has never claim­ed that he would return to Phnom Penh with King Norodom Sihamoni,” Oum Daravuth said.

“His health is not good and his permanent doctor asked him not to make the long trip.”

He declined to comment on whe­ther Norodom Sihanouk’s decision was politically motivated.

Prime Minister Hun Sen hinted at the possibility of dismantling the mon­­archy in a fiery speech two weeks ago in which he attacked those who had criticized his border pol­icies. He also ordered Khmer-language TV stations to broadcast anti-Si­ha­nouk songs and past border documents. The broadcasts were stop­ped this week.

Prince Norodom Sirivudh was re­portedly in Bangkok on Tuesday but Kung Hun Thearith, Interior Min­istry secretary of state, said the prince had told him an official at the Cam­bodian Embassy in Beijing had passed on the information that the re­tired Monarch and Queen would be returning with the King.

Funcinpec lawmaker Monh Sa­phann was disappointed to hear that Norodom Sihanouk would not be returning with the King.

“I am very sad that the retired King doesn’t return,” he said. “The re­­tired King is like a cool shade and the people rely on him,” he said.

     (Ad­di­tional reporting by Lee Ber­thiaume)


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