King Norodom Sihanouk, from Beijing, has spoken of republicanism,
the Monarchy, another Cambodian revolution and a "dark" Cambodian future.
These interviews are taken from the Bulletin Mensuel de Documentation (BMD) prepared
by Royal staff. Unofficial translation from the French.
BMD Team: Sire, are You shocked by the fact that, recently, HE Samdech Hun Sen
and the CPP solemnly welcomed, as an 'ally', the "Free Republican Party?
NORODOM SIHANOUK: No, I was not shocked, because in our 2nd Kingdom of
Cambodia the things the most unexpected or strange are "common currency".
One becomes used to it. A (French) author of theatrical comedies wrote, 60 years
ago, that "journalism leads to everything.....on the condition that one gets
out of it". One can plagerize him by saying that "great political ambitions
lead to everything....on the condition that one gets out of it.". The Republican
Son NGOC THANH (in the 40's, 50's, 60's, and 70's) and his clique (with SIM VAR as
head) spared no effort "to ruin" me. They are all dead (without glory),
and I am still alive. LON NOL and his clique (which included SIRIK MATAK, my cousin)
terminated in ignominy their "republican" careers after only 5 years of
"reign". POL POT and his clique (with IENG SARY as head) "liquidated"
nearly 3 million of our innocent compatriots (including innumerable members of my
family) in order to prevent the Monarchy from "resurfacing". But they found,
on their way, the VIETNAMESE who "ousted" them. Now, we wait for a return
in force, to Cambodia, for "Republicans", true "zombies", of
which the only "passion" is to aim at taking down Sihanouk and the Monarchy.
In principal, they could arrive at their goal, even before the "elections"
of 1998, then I am "capable" of dying or...abdicating before these "elections"
with "predictably" contestable results and (which will) surely be contested
by the "losers".
BMD Team: While abdicating in the not-so-distant future, Your Majesty is giving
the impression that You are acknowledging defeat in the face of the Republicans and
other anti-Sihanoukists without having the courage to defend Yourself against their
injustices and fighting against these small Satans...
NORODOM SIHANOUK: The majority of the Cambodian People have always known
to defend me, oh how heroically, generously and nobly!, against the ignoble injustices
of the Lonnolists, then the Polpotists, etc...For those who are concerned about "my
courage", I have no need to prove it; I have given enough proof in these past
decades. But now I am too old and sick to lead a struggle however futile against
those who, wickedly and injustly, pose as my enemies. I will take my retirement definitely
before one or two years.
BMD Team: Sire, the "Khmer Republic" of Lon Nol, historically,
only committed mistakes, crimes and national treason and did nothing beneficial,
quite the contrary!, for the Country, the People, the Nation. This "Khmer Republic"
(18 March 1970 - 17 April 1975) betrayed national Independence to the profit of U.S.
Imperialism and for the pro-USA "Republic" of Nguyen Van Thieu; called
the U.S. Air Force and the planes of Nguyen Cao Ky to bombard and destroy Cambodia
and its people more terribly than that done by the American air force against Hitler's
Germany and Japan in the course of the second world war; transformed some State factories
(Chakrey Ting, etc...), some teaching centers and orphanages into fortresses, barracks
and training centers for the new Khmer cannon fodder of UNCLE SAM; pushed arch-corruption
of his Regime to the point of selling military vehicles, tons of medical equipment
and other products of strategic utility (including arms and munitions -(and all this
given by the USA)- to the Khmer Rouge enemies; permitted the troops of Nguyen Van
Thieu to pillage at will and to humiliate our people as well as our pagodas and our
buddhist clergy; etc...etc...One must also recall the massacre of thousands of unarmed
Sihanoukist demonstrators by the Lon Nol Army and the terrible pogram of innocent
Vietnamese civilians. In these conditions how can You, Sire, permit these Republicans
to re-take Power while deceiving the People and Youth?
NORODOM SIHANOUK: Our People and our Youth possess courage, intelligence
and clairvoyance. Between 1970 and 1993, they have given many examples of this. Without
their support, no "Leader", no "regime" could maintain power
for long, at least without having to resort to the force of a foreign power. The
ex-Lonnolist Republicans, in order to hold now and "tomorrow" a party of
State Power, could not do so without agreeing to become a "satellite" and
the subordinate of a large and powerful PARTY, one which is not their own. The MONARCHY
could be destroyed, once again, illegally because (it would be) unconstitutional.
But, in the 21st century, Cambodia, if it does not want to break apart and be swallowed
by its large neighbors, will be obliged to entrust to pure patriots of the generation
of the decades 2010 or 2020 the care to realise its rescue while making a revolution
(certainly non-Khmer Rouge, non-Polpotist and non-Ieng Saryist) but more or less
pure and tough. The survival of our Native Land and of our Race will be at this price.
The foreign powers who have, here with us (in Cambodia), their geopolitical, economic
and strategic interests to defend and safequard, flatter us with their praise of
our "impressive and rapid progress", etc.....
But, without waiting for the arrival of the year 2000, those who are not blind already
see clearly that we can not indefinitely take pleasure in (being) on the road to
division, corruption, governmental, administrative and military disorganization,
permanent deforestation, trafficking of all kinds, wild capitalism, the systematic
destruction of our natural resources, the irreversable "de facto" partition
of the State, the decline of moral values at the heart of our society, the irrestable
advance of AIDS and other vices of Sodom and Gomorrah. In order to avoid a punishment
from Heaven such as those inflicted on the cities of antiquity, our Cambodia will
be forced, if it wants to survive, to proceed with a real (but not depraved) Revolution
pure and strong. In saying this, I will be attacked by Human Rights groups and the
Defenders of pluralistic, liberal Democracy. I wish that there will not be any misunderstanding
on my behalf. I am only a spokesman: I will always defend Human Rights and pluralistic
liberal Democracy for Cambodia, and this until my death. But, as a Cambodian citizen
having a patriotic conscience, I am allowing myself simply to express a concern about
the future of my Country and my People, a future which, in all my heart, I wish (will
be) brilliant but which, alas!, looks like it will be dark. The 21st century will
not be mine. But in the twilight of my life, I have not only the right but also and
especially the duty to "ring the alarm bell".
BMD Team: Sire, in Interview I You mentioned a possible "new pure and hard
(hardline) revolution" towards the year 2010 or 2020. Many among our compatriots
will not fail to say that such a "Revolution" will be totally impossible
as first, even in the 21st century, no-one will have forgotten the horrors of the
Polpotist Khmer Rouge "Revolution", and none of our compatriots will accept
a second "Revolution"; second, the Khmers worship the USA too much to do
anything contrary to what the omnipotent "UNCLE SAM", "the Master
of the World", wants for Cambodia; and third, the Cambodian People have already
had a taste of the "exquisitely delicious fruits" of pluralist liberal
democracy, with its "free market economy", its joie de vivre, its innumerable
concerts with handsome male singers and sexy star female singers, its Thai, Taiwanese,
etc...cinema, its free press, its Human Rights groups. How can one imagine, under
these conditions, the birth in the 21st century of Revolution seekers?
NORODOM SIHANOUK: CUBA had experienced (in the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's)
a period similar to the one we are going through in the Cambodia of the 1990's. The
USA was as "benevolent" to this "pre-CASTRO" CUBA, and as much
admired by many Cubans, men and women, as they were under Lon Nol's "Khmer Republic",
and now under our 2nd Kingdom of Cambodia. And moreover, the USA and CUBA were (and
are) geographically quite close, which in principle precluded any successful attempt
at a "Revolution". And yet FIDEL CASTRO, his "Revolutionaries",
and the poorer classes of the Cuban nation managd to triumph in 1959, and have upheld
their "Revolutionary" regime until now... To come back to our CAMDODIA,
it should be said that with the PARDON granted to Mr. IENG SARY and to 90% of the
Khmer Rouge, with the "negotiations" with TA MOK, the most cruel of the
POLPOTISTS, and with the refusal to incinerate the remains of the POLPOTISTS' innumerable
victims, to provide them with a burial (place) and with the Buddhist blessings needed
to free their souls from their post-mortem sufferings and humiliations, our present
Regime is lending "honorability", "respectability", and even
"legitimacy" to the Polpotist Revolution.
Now it is "fashionable" to vie in currying favour with the most disrespectable
This being said, I am yielding to all that our leaders' and other elected representatives
of the People may decide.
I am afraid, however, that there may be about the year 2010 or 2020 (the future is
unpredictable and can always have surprises in store) some young Khmer FIDEL CASTRO
who is able to galvanise part of the people, of the youth, to wage a "non-Polpotist"
and "non-Khmer Rouge" Revolution aimed at preventing Cambodia's descent
into the ditch [fossé] of a fatal decay.
Today, in spite of those "beautiful" appearances about which so many Foreigners
(VIP visitors and diplomats) congratulate us, the gulf [fossé] separating
the rich from the poor is getting ever wider.
The poor live in straw huts which cannot be graced with the name of "house",
and which are quite pitiful "shelters". Many have too little rice and have
practically nothing to eat to keep body and soul together. Their land is increasingly
confiscated by the "strong", in the face of whom the "weak" always
have to submit.
But until when? Our State itself will experience an irremeediable financial bankruptcy.
And when the national Budget esperiences bankruptcy, the State will inevitably collapse
like a "house of cards".
The problem of the unduly low salaries of the servants of the State (whether civilian
or military) is well-known as one of the causes of Corruption, and of innumerable
abuses and irregularities committed against the weak and the "defenseless".
The problem of the dearth of jobs available to the very numerous students graduating
from institutions of secondary and higher education will come up with ever increasing
With its considerable wealth, the highly esteemed CPP will for some time yet give
its students (of both sexes) some aid and assistance. But Ministers consulted (about
this) have admitted to me that the RGC would be faced with increasingly dramatic
difficulties regarding the impossibility of finding employment for all students who
have completed their secondary, or even, higher, studies.
Some of our leaders have recently admitted that if the IMF and other international
banks stopped lending the RGC enough money for it to survive, they would continue
to deforest Cambodia in order to have enough money to go on governing....
The consequence of an almost total deforestation of Cambodia will be catastrophic
for the Country and the People in the 21st century, and it is easy to imagine the
reaction of certain genuine patriots (young and old, men and women, citizens from
the towns and the countryside) in the face of such an assured death of Cambodia,
without [that is]....a Revolution...
BMD TEAM: Sire, You have told us that You have never felt at ease on the Cambodian
Throne and that You prefer abdication to a continuation of Your reign. Why then did
You accept to become King again (in 1993)?
NORODOM SIHANOUK: In 1991, 1992 and 1993, before the general election of
May 1993, I had made it known to all and sundry that I wished to stand for presidential
elections, suggesting that Cambodia should adopt a Presidential Regime such as that
of France's 5th Republic, or of the USA.
The CPP, with HE CHEA SIM and HE HUN SEN at its head was in complete agreement with
me on the adoption of such a regime.
HE CHEA SIM and HE HUN SEN were even promising me, on behalf of the CPP, that they
would support me in my bid to be elected President of the State of Cambodia, which
State would not be called a "Kingdom" or a "Republic".
But among the signatory powers of the Paris Accords on Cambodia (dated 23 October,
1993), and the member countries of UNTAC, there were many who were very stongly opposed
to my proposal of presidential elections. For those powers and UNTAC members, the
aim was probably at all costs to prevent NORODOM SIHANOUK from again ruling Cambodia.
They utterly hated and feared my anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist...and (Buddhist)
Which goes to show that the "democracy" which UNTAC was entrusted with
"implanting" in Cambodia precluded all possibility for the supposedly "sovereign"
Cambodian people again to bring to State Power the so hated and...feared (by certain
foreign powers) NORODOM SIHANOUK. That is when the CPP, FUNCINPEC. Samdech SON SANN
agreed to reinstate the Monarchy (no longer an absolute, but a "constitutional"
Monarchy, with a King who reigns but does not govern), and to beg me to accept to
ascend the Throne.
I could not refuse a Restoration of the Monarchy, as this was an act of historical
justice of the highest importance both towards my August Ancestors and Parents and
towards my Supreme Magistry in the 1950's and 1960's.
I accepted to ascend the Throne without joy but with the deep feeling of a sacred
duty accomplished towards the Kings and Queens who have preceded me.
However, it was my conviction that I should reign provisionally until such time as
the RGC, the National Assembly and the Crown Council should, in the 1990's, find
another King or a Regent to replace me, while enjoying the support of the majority
of the sovereign People.
BMD TEAM: Sire, is it true that our 1993 Constitution obliges the King to reign
all his life, and prohibits him from abdicating?
NORODOM SIHANOUK: It's not true. Our Constitution, whether it dates from
1947-1955 or from 1993, states the same thing: the King reigns until the end of his
life. But a King (whether he is Khmer in Cambodia or English in Great Britain) is
always allowed to abdicate if he so desires or if he has to do it for some reason
or another. So I abdicated voluntarily in 1955, and in Great Britain Edward VIII
abdicated in 1936.