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King Father considers his own mortality

FORMER King Norodom Sihanouk wants the world to stop wishing him a long life so he can die as soon as possible, according to a handwritten note posted on the elderly ex-monarch’s personal Web site.

In the message, dated October 2, the King Father gently chastises well-wishers who tell him they hope he lives to be older than 100 years of age.

“I would like to let everybody, Khmers and foreigners, know that they do not please me at all when they wish me a long life,” Sihanouk wrote from Beijing, where he is undergoing medical treatment for cancer and other ailments

He added that his own father, King Suramarit, died of diabetes at the age of 64, and that his father-in-law, King Sisowath Monivong, died at the same age “from sadness” after Thailand annexed parts of Battambang and Siem Reap provinces from Cambodia with Japanese military backing in 1941.

“But for me, who sincerely wants to die as near in the future as possible, I have lived too long,” he wrote.

“On October 31, 2009, I will be 87 years old. This lengthy longevity bears on me like an unbearable weight.”

King Father Norodom Sihanouk has suffered from a number of ailments, including cancer, diabetes and hypertension. He left his throne in 2004, citing old age and health problems.

A lawmaker from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, however, said the letter merely showed the King Father was bored.

“I see the King Father on television, and he was healthy enough to watch the parade during [China’s 60th anniversary celebrations],” said lawmaker Cheam Yeap. “I wish the King Father a long life.”

But the King Father was unequivocal. “What I want is to die as soon as possible, without having to infringe on the teachings of the august Buddha, who forbade suicide,” he wrote.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

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