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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Throne beckons monk prince

Throne beckons monk prince

P RINCE Norodom Yuveaneath is a physically imposing man who prefers to wear the

simple dress of a Buddhist monk. He is a man of strong beliefs who prefers to

speak directly and simply. Protective tattoos run from wrist to shoulder, across

his chest and back.

The oldest living son of His Majesty King Norodom

Sihanouk is also the son of HRH Princess Sisowath Pongsanmoni.

Though

most observers believe that Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the First Prime Minister,

is the top candidate to be the next King, supporters of Prince Yuveaneath point

out that he is only one of two living sons of Sihanouk whose mother has Royal

blood. The other is Prince Chakrapong.

Prince Norodom Yuvaneath left

Cambodia in 1970 before the coup against his father, and spent time in Beijing

before settling in the US. He has lived in Rhode Island since 1980 and worked

there for a surgical instrument supply company.

The Prince flew back to

Phnom Penh on Malaysia Air on April 7, with 116 Khmer-American supporters. They

came hoping to advance his chances to rise to the throne.

Seventy have

since returned, along with the Prince's wife Princess Norodom Kim Yin, but more

than 40 have remained in Cambodia with the Prince. Most are scattered in

residences around Phnom Penh.

The 52-year-old Prince talked to the Post

at Wat Onalaum on June 9. It was the fifty-second day of his entry into the

Buddhist monkhood. During the interview, visitors gathered to meet the

royal.

The Prince explains that he was asked to return home by King

Sihanouk. He said: "The King asked me to come back to Cambodia, and I could not

refuse the request of the King."

Saing Chandara, the Prince's director of

protocol said: "All his life the Prince has wanted to help poor people. Now he

has come to be a monk in Cambodia, and he is following the rules of the monk.

Everyday, 200 to 300 people come to see him. They come to give him respect and

to tell him their problems. He listens, and when he can, he helps

them."

Prince Yuveaneath says that "people come to tell me about their

problems, and to ask for help to re-build wats, hospitals, schools and with

agricultural equipment."

The Prince said: "One thing I believe is that I

must go into the countryside to see and understand that situation of the

Cambodian people."

However one supporter said privately that finding

money for travel and to support the entourage in Phnom Penh has been difficult.

Chandara said: "The Prince has given away almost all of the $12,000 severance

pay he received when he left his job to Cambodian people who have asked for help

with their problems."

When asked what suggestions he had about the

current situation in Cambodia, the Prince said: "I have many ideas, but I have

no position and no authority. The King does ask for my advice, but other people

also have his ear. I am waiting for the order of the King before I do

something."

As to the Khmer Rouge, the Prince says that in order to

understand what should be done about the Khmer Rouge, one need only think about

family life. "If you have two children and one is good and one is bad, what do

you do with the bad child? Do you stop loving him? You can't make judgments

about the child."

When the Prince was asked if it was necessary sometimes

to discipline a child, he said: "Yes, children must be disciplined to goodness,

but you should not kill them."

The Prince believes that returning

Buddhism to Cambodia is essential to solving its many problems.

 

He said: "I believe that we should have all the children in schools to learn

about the Buddhist religion. I think that all of Cambodia's leaders should spend

time as a monk. In fact I would like to see all government workers required to

do this. Since I became a monk I have, through meditation and diet, become

calmer inside. I have lost most of my anger."

The Prince said that so far

he has not talked with Prince Ranariddh. He said: "Perhaps someday I will have a

chance to speak to him. But I cannot speak to him now because he has power."

Prince Yuveaneath is the co-premier's half brother and Prince

Chakrapong's full brother.

The Prince is one of King Sihanouk's four sons

who are believed to be on the short list to replace him.

Other than Prince Ranariddh and Prince Chakrapong, Prince Sihamoni is also a

contender for the throne. Prince Sihamoni resides in Paris. He is the

government's Unesco ambassador and is the eldest son of Her Majesty Queen

Monineath.

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