Former King Norodom Sihanouk laughs and jokes with media representives during a tour of the unveiling of a new museum collection of gifts collected during his time as Cambodia's monarch.
Gifts from every country and every creed will have an equal place in a new museum
opened by former King Norodom Sihanouk.
Visiting international dignitaries gave Sihanouk hundreds of presents during his
six decade on-and-off reign, all of which are displayed in an unlabelled smorgasbord
"I have placed these items in a museum as a gift to our people [and] our homeland,
our nation," said the former king, 82.
The museum's collection of diplomatic souvenirs includes gifts presented to the former
King by leaders such as North Korea's Kim Il Sung and Indonesian president Sukarno.
It also includes items presented by leaders from Africa, Japan, Burma (Myanmar) and
Thailand, as well as gifts from the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia
(UNTAC), chairman of the CPP Chea Sim, and Cambodia's hill tribes.
"These valuable items of history are not my own property. The museum will be
extended in the future," said Sihanouk.
The new museum is housed within the Royal Palace but will not be open to tourists.
Only invited guests will be allowed to view the collection.
Kong Sam Ol, Minister of the Royal Palace, said distinguished guests would be invited
to tour the museum after audiences with King Norodom Sihamoni.
The long building housing the royal gifts is itself steeped in history. Many Royal
birthdays have been celebrated there, and significant agricultural and industrial
exhibitions have been staged inside.
On January 23, Sihanouk invited 68 local and international journalists to the Royal
Palace to tour the museum and enjoy the hospitality of the still-sprightly octogenarian.
Performers from the Royal University of Fine Arts performed songs and dances created
by the former monarch by mixing traditional Apsara styles with international influences
such as the cha-cha and the tango.
Sihanouk left Cambodia on January 24 heading to Beijing for medical treatment.
Prince Norodom Ranariddh, president of FUNCINPEC, said his father would return before
April 10 to participate in Khmer New Year celebrations.