ON the last day of the election campaign period, King Norodom Sihanouk issued a statement
tinged with bitterness that asserted the Khmer Rouge was "more powerful than
ever". The July 25 letter, entitled 'A scary prospect for Cambodia', barely
received a mention in local media despite being released in French, English and Khmer.
The King wrote that most people who read the text would conclude "the very old
and senile Sihanouk has become completely mad as to imagine, for the future of Cambodia,
an odiously wacky 'scenario'" in which he would be held responsible for the
Killing Fields, because the Khmer Rouge was reunited within the current government.
He listed a string of events that he felt showed the Khmer Rouge was still in power
within the government: the amnesties granted to senior Khmer Rouge cadres, the reintegration
of the movement's soldiers, and the stripping of the country's natural resources.
Added to that are the, "high ranking positions given to great killers of royalist-Sihanoukists,
their launch towards legislative power and executive power after a very predictable
victory on the July 27 2003 elections".
He also wrote bitterly about the deaths of Funcinpec officials in the 1997 coup:
"The inexpressible atrocities suffered by Generals (Ho Sok, Kruch Yoeum), Colonels
and other royalist-Sihanoukist officers, in 1997, prove that there is no difference
between pro-Hanoi KR and pro-Peking KR as far as inhuman cruelty is concerned."
The letter concluded: "The future will show even more clearly that Pol Pot's
Cambodia is alive and well. It is immortal ... And the 'Khmer Satan' was solely and
is solely Sihanouk. Go to Hell, Sihanouk!"
Despite the timing of the statement, the King's official biographer, Julio Jeldres,
told the Post he did not think it was an attempt by
the monarch to influence the outcome of the election.
"What His Majesty is trying to do is draw attention to the fact that the killers
of the Khmer people remain free and now are acceptable to be candidates for high
posts ... and that the rule of impunity reigns in Cambodia, where people get murdered,
mostly by the KR pro-Hanoi, and their killers are never apprehended," Jeldres
wrote in an email.
The King sent a second letter the same day that attempted to clarify some of his
statements. He firmly prohibited political parties from exploiting his texts to meet
their ends, and also stated that the Khmer translation contained errors, such as
adding the words "excrement" and "urine".
In the follow-up letter he also wrote that he understood he would be condemned if
in his everyday texts there were historical or other inaccuracies.
At least one issue raised in his first letter is on its way to being resolved. The
King seemed to point a finger at the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) by
stating that "this famous so-called anti-KR Research Center, funded by Uncle
Sam" meant to accuse him of responsibility for the KR regime.
But Youk Chhang, DC-Cam's director, told the Post on July 30 that the King had sent
him a follow-up letter on July 29 expressing gratitude to the organization. Chhang
added that he would soon be granted an audience with the King.
"Their Majesties have been very supportive to our research for memory and justice,"
said Chhang. "I have the highest respects for Their Majesties whom I value as
the custodians and guarantors of the rights provided to Cambodians under the Constitution."