King Norodom Sihamoni
Expectations high for King
Kings are not crowned everyday. The last was Norodom Sihanouk in 1993. Before
that, nearly four decades passed without a coronation.
The Cambodian King is a revered, almost holy figure. For many, his wisdom is beyond
reproach and his motives always pure. He is given deferment afforded no other.
But with the title of King and the reverance delivered with the nation's most coveted
role comes the undeniable responsibilty of carrying the hopes and dreams of the people
of Cambodia, a country that struggles to provide the most basic needs of its citizens.
Former-King Sihanouk was well-known to involve himself in local politics. He cajoled.
He demanded. He pleaded. He published letters openly critical and often chastizing
History will determine his effectiveness.
It is now his sons turn to head the state. But King Sihamoni is unschooled in politics
and unitiaited in the workings of local statecraft.
As newly-crowned King Sihamoni looks to the future, The Post interviewed people in
the street about their expectations of the new King.
Vichetphearkdey, 22, monk:
He has to visit the people and help us. [He could] provide presents or build a school
for the children. A king should stay out of politics and not support anybody. He
should be familiar with Buddhism and also support the Buddhist sector.
Phan, 74, temple layperson from Kampong Thom:
I want the new king to help the poor people, especially in the remote areas, [and
to] build schools for the children. I want to watch the parade of the ceremony because
I've never seen it before. After the coronation, I want the new king to make the
country peaceful with his people living in happiness.
Ly, 26, Cintri sweeper in Phnom Penh:
I want the new king to build new roads without rubbish or puddles. All roads should
be made from concrete. I hope that the incoming king will change everything and the
country will be more prosperous.
Visal, 26, barber:
The main point is to solve the border problem and to reduce the price of gasoline
because it's difficult for the people. Regarding the illegal immigrants, there are
many Vietnamese people in Phnom Penh who take the Cambodians' jobs.
Sokoun, 27, staff at the Khmer Writers Association:
It's important for him to have regular contact with the people, to show he's kind
and let them see him. All the people love the king and don't want the monarchy to
be lost. I want the king to stay neutral, not involved in politics, just be the head
of state and look after the people.