For Thailand's kings, relative to Cambodia's, lese majeste is more

For Thailand's kings, relative to Cambodia's, lese majeste is more

Though the Thai government regularly invokes its royalty-protecting regulation, Cambodia's king and govt have taken a laid-back approach.

CAN you get in trouble for insulting the Cambodian King? Under Thailand's notorious lese majeste laws, one can be jailed for failing to stand up for the national anthem or publicly criticising the monarchy.

But sources close to the royal family say that though open insults could get you into hot water, similar laws in Cambodia have been tempered by an established precedent of open expression.

The constitution itself paints an ambiguous picture: Article 7 states that the "person of the King shall be inviolable", and Article 18 that "royal messages shall not be subjected to discussion by the National Assembly" - but both are far from the sort of punitive laws that exist in other monarchies.

Someone wandered down from the palace and said 'i don't think you should sell that'.

Less strict
Julio Jeldres, King Father Norodom Sihanouk's official biographer, said that the Cambodian government is much less strict than that of Thailand or Jordan, where people are still serving lengthy jail terms for lese majeste offences.
"In Cambodia, King Sihanouk was the first to signal that he was not going to send to jail writers or journalists that were critical of him," he said.

He said that in his own writings on the royal family he was "completely free" to write whatever he wanted, but "naturally, I am always aware that there are certain boundaries".

But how far can one push the envelope? Australian historian Milton Osborne's book Sihanouk: Prince of Light, Prince of Darkness was banned for about four weeks in 1994 for its less-than-charitable assessment of the then-King.

Casual ban
But even the author himself cast light on the casual nature of the "ban".

"One day, soon after the book was released [in Lucky Market], someone wandered down from the palace and said, 'I don't think you should sell that', and so they took it off the shelves," Osborne said in an interview with the Post last year. "A month later it was back."

Royal privileges
Although his son Norodom Sihamoni is the new king, the Cambodian parliament conferred upon Sihanouk following his abdication the title of "Great and Valorous King" enabling him to retain the same privileges and immunities as those constitutionally conferred upon the reigning monarch.

This was subsequently enshrined in the Law on the Titles and Privileges of the Former King and Queen of Cambodia on October 29, 2004.


  • ‘Kingdom lacks up to 400MW in available electricity’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the general public, hoteliers and businesspeople with generators to use them as back-up as the Electricity Authority of Cambodia cannot generate enough electricity to meet needs due to low water levels in power station reservoirs. On Saturday evening

  • Sor Chandeth defends his criticism of Hun Sen

    Former senator Sor Chandeth has defended his choice of words when criticising Hun Sen, saying he was merely speaking metaphorically to attack the Prime Minister’s political life, not his actual person, as the latter seeks damages. [img] Chandeth spoke to The Post on Thursday,

  • South Korea’s Moon arrives in Kingdom for state visit

    South Korean president Moon Jae-in and his wife arrived in Phnom Penh on Thursday at the start of a three-day state visit to Cambodia to strengthen ties and further the friendship between the two countries. After arriving at the Phnom Penh International Airport in the

  • Youths band together to clean ‘filthy’ Boeung Trabek canal

    Inspired by their affection for the environment, a desire to have a clean and beautiful city, and wanting to send a message to people to stop littering, a group of some two dozen volunteer youths have taken to picking up trash day and night from