Do a few comments scribbled in the margins of newspaper articles amount to “getting into politics?”
This is what retired King Norodom Sihanouk asked in some of his latest messages on his Web site.
“Some newspapers and people contend that, in spite of my promises, I continue to play politics,” he wrote in the margins of a Friday edition of The Cambodia Daily. “It is not getting into politics to write…a few comments on rape, drugs, fisheries, Montagnards and fishermen.”
“When I speak of the compassion we should have towards the Montagnards oppressed and deprived of their land and ancestors’ forest in Vietnam, I’m not getting into politics—this is simply a matter of Buddhist doctrine,” he said in a Saturday handwritten text, referring to previous comments he wrote on stories about the forced repatriation of Montagnards to Vietnam last week.
In a Wednesday edition of The Cambodia Daily, in the margins of a story about NGO Global Witness officials barred from returning to Cambodia, Norodom Sihanouk wrote, “Global Witness’ ‘crime’ has been to be too outspoken regarding the tragic and catastrophic consequences of a deforestation too unrestricted to say the least.”
Talking about villagers from Sihanoukville who went to the National Assembly to ask for help in their land dispute, he wrote in the margins of a Wednesday Cambodge Soir story that “the National Assembly should not limit themselves to making laws. It is its duty to take care of people with serious problems.”
Commenting on the villagers’ claim that local authorities took their land to sell them to businessmen, Norodom Sihanouk added “Our ‘Democracy’ should stop favoring companies and businessmen to the detriment of the Small People.”
Regarding human rights workers asking for a law on peaceful demonstrations, the retired King wrote in the margins of a Thursday Cambodia Daily story, “Our country should respect its own Constitution and imitate France that allow all peaceful demonstrations.”
The retired King wrote “Hurrah for the Police!” on the Cambodge Soir weekend story on police cracking down on shops selling phones exhibiting a nude woman photo montage. “Such crimes should not remain unpunished,” he added.
In a Wednesday Cambodge Soir story about two men respectively sentenced to 18 and 10 years in jail for drug trafficking, he wrote it was in Cambodia’s interest to stop illegal drug production and export.
Referring to critics accusing him of playing politics, he ended a Friday note by quoting a proverb to the effect that when one wants to drown a dog, one says the dog is rabid.
“Some want to make me look…rabid,” he said.