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Comment: PM defends King and country

Prince Norodom Ranariddh released this Declaration on Sept 29.

It suits His Majesty the King Preah Bat Samdech Preah, Norodom Sihanouk Varman, King of Cambodia, to issue a "clarification" on Sept 27, 1994, and a "statement" on Sept 28.

In my capacity as the First Prime Minister of the Royal Government, I support entirely and very firmly this Royal "clarification" and "statement".

I declare that no one has done more than His Majesty the King for the return of peace in Cambodia and for a real national reconciliation of all the Cambodians.

No one has done more than His Majesty the King, Father of our Nation, for the protection of Human and Women and Children's Rights in Cambodia.

No one has done more than His Majesty the King for a pluralist democracy to exist in Cambodia.

No one has done more than His Majesty the King for the emergence of an "extremely free press", for the respect of journalists' rights and for the support of all the efforts and achievements by national and international humanitarian organizations which give their generous assistance to the Kingdom.

Since its advent, The Royal Government has worked humbly to follow the Noble Path laid out by His Majesty the King.

A lot of people were giving to the Royal Government just a slight chance to exist beyond a few weeks. Three months later, these same people were talking about a "miracle". Today, there has been almost one year of governmental work.

Some men and women, who show admirable modesty, silent in the accomplishment of their tasks, clear every day a new step for the Kingdom on the way to development.

Every day the struggle against poverty achieves some successes. Rural development with, for example, the rehabilitation of irrigation canals and more than $300 million in projects fulfilled only for the year 1993 with the help of the international community. Health with the creation of free clinics and vaccination programs, with the training of medical staff. Agriculture with, notably, successes in the culture of hevea [rubber], in the improvment of traditional strains and the introduction of new ones such as oil palm trees. Industry with the introduction of factories, some of which in the textile sector providing clothes. Education with the access of the poorest to knowledge. Foreign and national investment that generates thousands of jobs. Construction and rehabilitation within a florishing real-estate business. Retail and wholesale trading with an obvious growth in the main cities. Public works rehabilitating roads, bridges, dams. Demining with the work of heroic men who every day enable new land to be returned to cultivation. Army and police, where some men for whom a sad fight ends, fraternize.

So many other examples could be stated, but this does not seem to draw the attention of any commentator, any observer, any journalist.

Every day a victory is won, I do assert, for the excercise of human rights, fundamental liberties, the right of the press and most of all the right of the readers to have a free press.

In these fields, some new liberties were given with an incredible pace, after so many years where the right for expression was non-existant.

This pace has its side effects. While many talk about rights, only a few mention duty.

Please would His Majesty the King find here enclosed the expression of the gratitude of millions of men and women?

Everybody can observe the excesses of some in the national press where filthy words, insults, the most despicable slanders, breaches of private life, threats, lies, humiliation, attacks to the honor of individuals known for their uprightness. The press has flaunted itself in a dangerous and unwarranted nature.

Everybody can observe the Occidental press, hampered by well-known special interest groups, eager to give a destructive and narrow picture of Cambodia (and other countries). Is Thailand's image to be reduced to only that of its moral habits? Is France's image to be reduced to the murder and the rape of tourists? Shall we only retain from the United States of America the daily crimes and the drugs? Have we got to flee from Italy because of its mafia, Spain because of its bombings, Ireland because of the IRA, Zaire because of Aids.....?

Some efforts have been made by the Royal Government to teach the excercise of rights and duties to the novices of the freedom of expression but what support does the Royal Government have for this task?

How come some organizations in charge of teaching democracy and human rights and whose virtues should be serenity, can find a man guilty without previous inquiry, investigation or trial? Which organization, who affirms to be concerned about human rights has showed sympathy to the man who is victim of this unfounded indictment. The Centre for Human Rights of the United Nations in Cambodia has seemed to be more preoccupied by its inquiries on a two-year-old affair than by the most shameful and wrongful accusations which come from organizations whose vocation is precisely to look after the respect of fundamental rights of the citizens. It is unfortunate.

Is it not the duty of the Royal Government to defend the right to work, enclosed in the Constitution? Thus is it not its duty to rise up against some foreign press who, with vitriolic and too often false written work, have made several hundred of my compatriots lose their jobs, have made important investments be cancelled (it is interesting to know to whom the profit goes)?

How empty, sometimes adventurous, seem the fiery statements of so-called intellectuals who declare, accompanied by a great many articles paid by a press where ignorance is the best ground for manipulation, some demagogic ideas which they think is the only way to serve their personal interests. Hatred of others, lack of respect as regards themselves, betrayal of their profession?

How long should Cambodians pay for a past, of which they are the first victims? How long will some souls, supposed to be right-thinking, who come from distant countries, come here on behalf of cultural references they want to lay down, in order to judge and condemn what the Cambodian people have already judged and condemned for a long time? Let them be at ease: Cambodians do forget neither their own suffering nor the madness of some people.

Cambodia is going to win. With its King, it has already won tremendous victories, first of all upon itself. The Royal Government is impelled by the firm intent to follow the very wise and very sensitive advise that His Majesty the King condescends to express.

The Cambodian people cried out their thirst for peace and reconciliation in May 1993. Is it so hard to hear it?

Norodom Ranariddh

Let me very respectfully and very humbly notify His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk Varman, venerated King of Cambodia, of this.

- Unofficial translation from the French by Fabien Dulphy.

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