My cordial greetings to the Phnom Penh Post on the day of its "birth" in the capital of my country -
I wish it great and continuing success as well as a very long "life."
The Supreme National Council, of which I am the President, has decided that henceforth Cambodia shall be a "western
style" "liberal" democracy: that is, a parliamentary regime, with a "pluralist" political
system, a free press, strict respect of human rights and all other rights to which all citizens are entitled, and
a "free market" economy.
With respect to freedom of the press, I am happy and proud to have obtained from the administration of His Excellency
Hun Sen freedom of movement for all foreign journalists, unlimited stay in our country, and the right to publish
and distribute newspapers and magazines throughout Cambodia. In so doing, the administration of His Excellency
Hun Sen granted me full satisfaction regarding the publication and free distribution in Cambodia of the Phnom Penh
The credibility of a "liberal" democracy lies in the existence of a free press as well as permission
for non-governmental radios and televisions to organize and operate without hindrance or censorship.
Criticism, however, must be founded and enunciated with full intellectual honesty. Slander and acts of defamation
by way of the press or radio or other forms are most reprehensible and punishable by law.
In a democracy worthy of this term, the government owes it to itself to fully respect the freedom of the press.
Conversely, however, the latter has the duty to strictly respect rules of righteousness, objectivity and intellectual
honesty, seriousness, and "fair-play," all of which constitute first class journalistic ethics, which,
unfortunately, do not always pertain to certain persons or organs of the great, free world press.
For its part, Cambodia, as a member of the "third world," owes it to itself to show the international
community that it will be capable of genuinely integrating into the family of "western" democracies,
to the greatest happiness, and (legitimate) pride of its wise, pacifist and freedom-loving people.
For the time being, our factions or political parties are learning with difficulty the tenets of liberal democracy.
In this trying apprenticeship, there are still, alas, misunderstandings, insufficiencies, blunders, even slip-ups
which have caused or are causing "accidents," lack of respect for human rights and the fundamental rights
of all citizens, impeding a true national reconciliation. These circumstances are delaying the serious implementation
of the terms of the Paris Accords dated Oct. 23, 1991, pushing the SNC, UNTAC, and the international community
toward a failure of their mission of rescue, rehabilitation and reconstruction in Cambodia. Moreover, they incite
some Cambodian politico-military factions to exploit more intensively than ever the Khmer land's natural resources
to obtain more "means" to achieve the greatest success possible in the April or May 1993 general elections.
In the meantime, there are continued cease-fire violations and other breaches of some very important terms of
the Paris Accords: attacks against U.N. helicopters and vehicles, bombings of villages which chase out an increasing
number of innocent inhabitants, disturbing banditry and other causes of instability and uncertainties which each
day threaten to make this fledgling democracy flounder. In this context of real and grave dangers, menacing not
only this democracy but also the very existence of a nation, a people, a race, and a country - a country threatened
with extinction since March 1970 - the role of the free press, of independent and honest newspapers, is transcendent.
Indeed, the often-referred-to "Fourth Estate," that is the great press, can, in a case such as Cambodia's,
help a nation to "right the helm."
The "Cambodian ship," which has almost, over the past two decades, totally and irreversibly foundered,
has once more found itself almost miraculously afloat.
But today, it seems that, through the fault of some, Cambodia is making its way again towards a catastrophe.
And so, it is up to all those Cambodians and foreigners resolved to prevent this catastrophe from occurring,
to join their efforts, including in the realm of journalism, to ensure that in the end law prevails over force
and reason triumphs.
- Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia