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Sihanouk declares assets to debunk myth he's rich

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The King Father seeks to fend off accusations from Republicans and other political opponents that he has amassed enormous wealth

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King Father Norodom Sihanouk greets admiring subjects as Queen Mother Monique stands behind him in this file photo.

FORMER king Norodom Sihanouk has said he is under attack from "Lonnoliens" and other Republican opponents who have accused him of sacking away enormous amounts of money, explaining last week's sudden declaration of his assets on his website.

"Since I am only a 'Retired King', the Lonnoliens and other Khmer Republicans are accusing me of having a large fortune and 'enormous' assets - sic! -. I must therefore make these ‘assets' known in full to the public," Sihanouk wrote on his website Tuesday.

"Certain journalists (in Phnom Penh) are looking for an 'explanation' for my preceding communique that made known to the public my assets.... Here is the ‘explanation'," he said. 

The retired monarch, who divides his time between guest palaces in Beijing and Pyongyang, announced unprompted Saturday that he had "30,313 Euros and 28 centimes" (about US$45,000) in a French bank.

He added that his estate also included a small house in Siem Reap which would go to his wife, Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, upon his death.

 
A new national museum?

Last week's statement also declared that the house of his birth near the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh, would, after 2014, become a national museum, and that the two residencies in China and North Korea do not belong to him. 

"The Palace 'Chhang Sou Won' (near Pyongyang, PDRK) and the ‘Royal Residence' in Beijing, PRC, do not belong to me. They are 'State Guest Houses' owned respectively by the PDR of Korea and the PR of China," he wrote.

The declaration came a day after the business magazine Forbes listed the 15 wealthiest monarchs in the world, giving first place to Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The magazine, which revealed the monarchs' combined wealth was about US$131 billion (up from $95 billion last year), said its classification was slightly dubious given the blurring of lines between state and royal ownership.  "These estimates are ... a blend of art and science," Forbes wrote. 

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