Seller Ponders Offering Prince’s Biography

Will the “Warrior Prince” be coming soon to a bookstore near you? Maybe not.

Monument Books, the leading importer of English-language books in Cambodia, placed an order for 50 copies of the biography of Prince Norodom Ranar­iddh with publisher Asia Books. But as the contents of the book became public and King Noro­dom Sihanouk began writing daily public messages disavowing characterizations and incidents that involved him, Monument Books began having second thoughts.

“Talking as a businessman, we aren’t sure what we are going to do,” Monument Books Managing Director Meng Hieng said Tues­day. “That doesn’t mean we won’t order the book, but we’re not sure if the book is favorable to the Royal Family and the prince.

“What we have is the problem of a biography that is being criticized by its [subject].”

Bangkok journalist-author Harish Mehta based much of the book on 18 hours of taped interviews with Prince Ranariddh made in 1997 after the prince fled to Bangkok following the factional fighting of that year.

Mehta says he gave the prince a list of quotes from those interviews and waited three years for the prince to comment on them before he published the book. Mehta says the prince told him this past May he never replied because he didn’t want to interfere in the author’s work.

Days after the contents of the book became known, representatives of the prince released a statement saying “[His Royal High­­­ness] is unhappy and disap­prov­es of the contents of the book.”

“I will be checking with Palace officials and the cabinet of Prince Ranariddh,” Meng Hieng said. “If they say there is no problem, we will place an order. If [the prince] doesn’t want to see the book here, we won’t order it.”

Minister of Information Lu Laysreng said Tuesday he hasn’t seen the book yet, and that there is no plan at this point for the government to get involved.

Also on Tuesday, in his 11th open letter attacking the book,  the King disagreed with a sentence that stated he once “wanted [Prince Ranariddh] to join the Khmer Rouge.”

“At no moment did I make it known or express any feelings to my son, Prince Ranariddh, or to any other of my children, that I wished to see them ‘enter into the maquis’ or ‘join with the Khmers Rouges’,” the King wrote.

The King added that the Royal Family members who did join the Khmer Rouge in the first half of the 1970s did so of their own accord to further the liberation of Cambodia from Lon Nol.

(Ad­di­tion­al reporting by Ham Samnang)



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