Prime Minister Hun Sen lashed out at Prince Sisowath Thomico yesterday in a speech that accused him of trading on his association with the royal family to round up votes for the opposition party ahead of the elections.
“This poses a danger to the royal family,” the premier said as part of his speech at an inauguration for a Buddhist school in Prey Veng province. “In addition, this prince uses the name of former King Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk [Thomico’s uncle, who died last year], and uses the name on behalf of the royal cabinet of the Queen Mother [Norodom Monineath].”
“So it makes analysts increasingly suspect that this is a trick of the King [Norodom Sihamoni, the current monarch], and Queen Mother. This issue is a disaster,” he said, adding that the royal family is a neutral institution and should not be roped into one side or the other.
“I dare to risk my life to guarantee that there is no involvement with the King. There is no involvement at all with the King, and also there is no involvement at all with the Queen Mother,” he said.
Thomico, a former aide to Sihanouk, took leave from Monineath’s royal cabinet earlier this year to enter the political fray. He joined the newly formed Cambodia National Rescue Party and began stumping for them in rallies. Earlier this month, he announced he was contesting a Sihanoukville province seat in July’s national elections.
Hun Sen warned Thomico that he cannot use his name as a royal family representative. He also suggested to Monineath that she remove Thomico from her cabinet for using its name as a political tool. The choice, however, is up to her, he said.
Yesterday, Thomico said he had been informed of support from some royals, and if that equates to being called a “representative of the royal family,” that’s fine with him.
“There is nothing wrong with this word.”
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said Thomico might only be overstepping his bounds if he mixed logos of the party with direct endorsements from the royal family, as if he were running on their behalf.