Retired King Norodom Sihanouk warned that his heart “could give way at any moment” in a handwritten letter posted to his Web site Wednesday, just days before his 83rd birthday.
Rumors circulated Thursday that members of the royal family were preparing to fly to China to visit Norodom Sihanouk, an indication that his condition might be serious.
But Oum Daravuth, Queen Norodom Monineath’s nephew and King Norodom Sihamoni’s cousin, dismissed such speculation. “His Majesty’s health is excellent,” Oum Daravuth said. “Everything is OK,” he said.
“‘Preoccupying,’ not for me, but according to my eminent doctors themselves,” the retired monarch wrote to Ieu Pannakar, one of two lawmakers appointed to represent the Royal Palace in the Senate.
“Physical weakness that is more and more pronounced; a heart that could give way at any moment,” he wrote.
Norodom Sihanouk has often gone to Beijing for medical treatment and in recent years has been afflicted with a number of serious health problems, including stomach cancer.
The retired monarch also said King Norodom Sihamoni would return to Cambodia on Nov 6 in letters to Ieu Pannakar and Funcinpec Senator Princess Norodom Buppha Devi.
Oum Daravuth confirmed the King’s return date.
“His Majesty will preside, as planned, over the Independence Festival and the Water Festival,” Norodom Sihanouk wrote.
Some political observers have speculated that part of the reason King Sihamoni had gone to Beijing was to avoid signing off on the controversial additional agreement to the 1985 border treaty.
Lawmakers in the National Assembly have said that they hope to put the treaty before the full Assembly before the Water Festival.
But despite the reports of his flagging health, the retired monarch remained feisty, and requested TVK to air two of his films.
Local television and radio stations in recent weeks have devoted lots of air time to border documents—some read word-for-word by news anchors-at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Many of the documents paint an unflattering picture of Norodom Sihanouk’s position on border issues.
Some stations have also broadcast a song from the Lon Nol era accusing the retired King of ceding Cambodian land to North Vietnamese forces.
Norodom Sihanouk on Oct 16 wrote a passionate letter posted to his Web site defending his legacy and pledging not to return to Cambodia.
“Never in my life have I betrayed the nation. On the contrary, I have protected it without stop,” he wrote.
The letter received almost no coverage in Khmer-language media.
TVK Director-General Kem Gunawath said the omission of the retired King’s defense did not amount to censorship, explaining that the Royal Cabinet should have notified the station and asked for the document to receive coverage.
(Additional reporting by Kim Chan and Pin Sisovann)