Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Saturday that Queen Mother Norodom Monineath wanted to meet with an opposition leader after said leader allegedly claimed the 1970 ouster of the then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk was not a coup.
But in a rare distancing, a palace official downplayed the incident, stressing that the Queen Mother had no desire for any action to be taken against Sam Rainsy Party president Kong Korm.
Speaking at a construction project inauguration in Kampong Cham province, the premier told thousands of attendees that Monineath had told his wife, Bun Rany, she “wanted to meet face-to-face with that person [Kong Korm]”.
The meeting took place last week, said Hun Sen, when Rany went to pay a birthday visit to the Queen Mother.
“But the children can protect against that,” Hun Sen said, referring to government institutions under the monarchy. “Their bad activity cannot be avoided and history will condemn them. It is a cheap act and an insult.”
Korm, who is also a senior SRP senator, reportedly said in late May that the 1970 coup by Lon Nol was in fact a plot masterminded by Sihanouk. A tape of his alleged comments was leaked by the ruling party government shortly thereafter, and the party’s coalition partner, royalist Funcinpec, has threatened to sue, calling it an insult to the monarchy.
Oum Daravuth, advisor to the general secretariat of the Queen Mother’s office, told the Post yesterday that the Queen Mother is indeed furious with the comments, but said she did not order officials to take action against Korm.
“She is feeling pain . . . with this exaggerated information [by Korm],” Daravuth said, adding that she had been privy to the late King Father’s decisions for more than 60 years.
“But the Queen Mother is in the top institution and she is too high, so she has no plan for action against Kong Korm.”
Noting that the facts were quite clear surrounding the history of the 1970 coup, Daravuth said Korm’s comment had been “made with a lack of evidence or consideration”, and added that not only was the Queen Mother upset over the words, but that numerous others were.
Contacted yesterday, Korm again refused to comment on the veracity of the leaked tape, but slammed the Cambodian People’s Party for drawing the Palace into a political fight.
“I listened and saw that Samdech Bun Rany, the wife of Samdech Techo – the head of the government – reported the matter to the Queen Mother. I think it would be better not to bring such political issues to the Queen Mother or to the Royal Palace which is neutral and not supposed to be involved with the matter of politicians,” he said.
The opposition has been reeling over the past few weeks after the fallout from another leaked tape, one of Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Kem Sokha allegedly claiming that Vietnam “staged” the notorious Tuol Sleng security centre.
That tape has led to widespread protests and a defamation lawsuit against Sokha.
On Thursday, meanwhile, Hun Sen ignited a new controversy after announcing he had ample evidence that opposition leaders had engaged in extra-marital affairs and the purchase of under-age sex and was prepared to leak that, too.