Retired King’s Biographer Lashes Out at PM

Firing back at Prime Minister Hun Sen, Julio Jeldres, the retired King’s official biographer, issued a statement on Tuesday expressing his offense at the premier’s re­cent public scorn.

Jeldres said Hun Sen “violently at­­tacked” retired King Norodom Si­h­­a­nouk, his former private secretary Prince Sisowath Thomico and himself during a speech on Mon­day, in which the premier blas­ted the retired King’s Sang­kum Reastr Niyum regime of the 1960s.

“He was very insulting towards His Majesty, and he referred to Prince Thomico and I by using the word ‘Ah’ in Khmer, which is one of the most insulting words in Khmer,” Jeldres wrote. “He also threatened to counterattack us.”

Jeldres said the insult has made him fearful for the security of his staff members at the Phnom Penh-based NGO Khmer Institute of Democracy, which Jeldres chairs.

“As you know, every time Prime Minister Hun Sen makes a threat, someone gets killed or wounded by unknown gangsters,” Jeldres wrote. “I am in­deed very concerned by the safety of my staff in Phnom Penh.”

Jeldres urged donors and diplomats to make it known to Hun Sen that if any harm were to be­fall his staff, there would be “serious repercussions from the international community.”

He added: “[I]t is high time that the donor community takes some concrete measures to stop this new trend toward dictatorship.”

On the day of Hun Sen’s speech, he said, Norodom Siha­nouk’s Web site was knocked off-line, and the Internet service pro­vider suspended its services. Jeldres’ own telephone lines and e-­mail service at the Khmer Insti­tute of Democracy were also temporarily cut off, he said.

By Wednesday, the retired King’s Web site was still not working.

Jeldres said Hun Sen was ap­parently angry with him for having translated an open letter by the re­tired King regarding Cam­bodia’s shrinking borders and for giving a recent speech in Kuala Lumpur that highlighted corruption within the current government.

Jeldres said he is in Australia and does not plan to return to Cam­­bo­dia “for some time.”

 

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