The future of the country’s royal institution has been in the minds of Cambodians as they mourn the loss of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk. Not only has this topic been addressed by the locals, but by the international forum.
As a journalist, in a country with little freedom of the press, it’s a skill to disseminate the facts without jeopardizing your career.
During the memorial ceremony for His Majesty Norodom Sihanouk on October 17, 2012, I witnessed that unity was weak among the Royal Family members and a division within the current government.
His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni has no power and is only a figurehead and the government is the new ruler of the country.
It was apparent at the memorial ceremony when some members of the Royal Family could not get inside the Throne Hall of the Royal Palace to pay their respects to their beloved family member, the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk.
The Throne Hall was overcrowded by government officials, delegates and VIPs from Asian countries.
I felt like I was at an ASEAN Summit Meeting instead of at a memorial service for a beloved family member.
Critics have stated that Prime Minister Hun Sen and the government control the political arena and the monarchy, and will continue to do so as long as he is in power.
The government has considerable say about who becomes the next king.
The nine-member Throne Council includes the Prime Minister and top officials from the National Assembly and Senate, all from the same ruling party.
The future of the monarchy is in their hands.
The Cambodian Royal Family has no power and is not wealthy, unlike the royal families in Thailand and England.
The lack of a successor to the current king, His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni, is a concern to some royalists and supporters.
Some believe the monarchy will slowly fade away.
I witnessed the division among my own Royal Family members on the first day of the memorial ceremony for His Majesty King Father Norodom Sihanouk.
We were all there to mourn the loss of the King Father, but some of my Royal Family members didn’t even speak with each other.
I hardly attend Royal Family functions as I have work obligations to financially take care of my father, but I want to unite our family.
If we can’t get along with our own family, what makes us think we can bring peace to the country?
“United we stand, divided we fall” is a famous motto from the United States which suggests that when we are united we cannot be defeated, but when you are alone you can be defeated.
With the current ruling party domination, and the division among Royal Family members, the future of the monarchy looks dim. Fear can only grow in darkness. Once you face fear with light, you win.
The Social Agenda with Soma Norodom
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.