Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Chea Sim farewelled

Chea Sim farewelled

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A procession carries the body of former CPP president Chea Sim through the streets of the capital on Friday. Scott Howes

Chea Sim farewelled

Former Cambodian People’s Party president and Senate President Chea Sim’s body was cremated on Friday in an elaborate Buddhist ceremony in Phnom Penh’s Wat Botum park.

Shortly after 7am, the golden casket containing the former CPP factional heavyweight, for many years considered the second-most powerful man in government after Prime Minister Hun Sen, was moved from his house to the cremation site in a lavish 3-kilometre procession that featured nine floats lacquered with gold, musicians, honour guards and monks.

Pro-government civil society groups, such as the Cambodian Red Cross and Cambodia scouts, marched alongside.

While Norodom, Sihanouk and Sothearos Boulevards were lined with mourners all the way to the funeral pyre at Wat Botum, they rarely formed more than one layer and tended to peel off as the procession continued past.

Once at Wat Botum, honour guards and officials outnumbered spectators, who numbered in the low hundreds.

Among attendees were Hun Sen, King Norodom Sihamoni, Queen Mother Norodom Monineath, newly elected Senate President Say Chhu and National Assembly President Heng Samrin as well as foreign diplomats.

Delivering a eulogy, Hun Sen, dabbing at tears, said the loss of Chea Sim, who died at age 82 on June 8 after long suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes and other ailments, was distressing and heartbreaking.

"The passing of Samdech Chea Sim is a loss of the top leadership dignitary of the nation, people and the CPP," he said, according to an English copy of his speech.

"Throughout his life, Samdech Chea Sim had been struggling for national independence and especially overcoming every obstacle for national salvation, building peace, national reconciliation, defending, rehabilitation and development of Cambodian motherland."

The funeral finished just before 11am, with King Norodom Sihamoni lighting the funeral flame, a moment marked with a barrage of celebratory rockets, which temporarily masked the crowd in a dense white haze.

The government previously declared Friday an official day of mourning and public holiday, decreeing that flags be flown at one-third mast.

Tomorrow, the CPP will convene its 38th central committee congress to elect a new party president – already announced as Hun Sen.

MOST VIEWED

  • US imposes sanctions on Oknha Pheap and Kun Kim

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation expressed strong dismay on Monday over the designation of Cambodian tycoon Oknha Try Pheap and General Kun Kim under the US’ Global Magnitsky Act. “It is very disturbing when the public figures of a country become the

  • Mother, daughter killed in hotel fire

    The bodies of a mother and daughter were found locked in an embrace after they were killed in a hotel fire in Phnom Penh at around 3:30am on Wednesday at the Phkar Chhouk Tep 2 Hotel and Restaurant in Phsar Doeum Kor commune, in the capital’

  • EBA withdrawal a destruction of EU achievements, PM says

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the EU’s possible suspension of its Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement amounted to a destruction of its achievements in the Kingdom and the demise of the opposition group. Hun Sen made the remarks while addressing more than 6,700 students during

  • US told to refrain from interfering in Sokha case

    Senior Cambodian officials said on Thursday that the US can monitor Kem Sokha’s trial as it wishes but would not be allowed to interfere in court procedures. The point was made in response to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments on Wednesday

  • Europe expected to consider EBA efforts, impact

    The government said it expects the European Commission to consider its efforts to comply with the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) regulations and the impact on one million workers should access to the agreement be suspended in February. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

  • Sri Lanka’s LOLC Holdings plans to sell Cambodian unit

    LOLC Holdings Plc, Sri Lanka’s second-largest publicly traded company by revenue, plans to sell its 70 per cent stake in Prasac Microfinance Institution Ltd, which also counts Hong Kong’s Bank of East Asia Ltd. as a shareholder, LOLC deputy chairman Ishara Nanayakkara said. Nanayakkara