Across the country, Cambodians paid their respects Wednesday to the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk on the second anniversary of his death.
Senior officials from 46 ministries and state institutions remembered the revered leader by laying wreaths at the statue built in his honor on Sihanouk Boulevard in Phnom Penh.
In front of the Royal Palace, about 1,000 people lined up to make offerings of food to 500 monks as part of a Buddhist ceremony to mark the anniversary.
“This is respectful to our King who passed away, because he had historical achievements in protecting and building the country and the nation,” Interior Minister Sar Kheng said after placing a wreath in front of the statue of the man who won Cambodia a peaceful independence from France in 1953.
General Tea Banh, the defense minister, also paid tribute to the late King Father, who died of a heart attack in a Beijing hospital at the age of 89 and whose ashes were interred at the palace’s Silver Pagoda in July.
“He demanded independence for our Kingdom of Cambodia and through this he built the country, and finally he…saved our country from suffering,” he said.
Just after 8 a.m., Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany arrived at the palace, where they were greeted by Royal Palace Minister Kong Sam Ol, and walked inside.
Standing in the crowd outside the palace, 75-year-old Poeun Inh said she first saw the late King Father when she was just 10 years old during a royal visit to her home province of Kandal.
“Even though His Majesty Sihanouk has passed away, I still remember and love him because he was a good King and loved the Cambodian people,” she said.
Opposition CNRP lawmaker Kem Sokha, first vice president of the National Assembly, said his party had been snubbed from the wreath-laying ceremony by the ruling CPP.
“We can go as common people…because we weren’t invited,” he said, adding that opposition officials commemorated the occasion at their headquarters.