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Pretenders anger prince's followers

Pretenders anger prince's followers

AS Cambodia celebrated its sixth anniversary of the return of the monarchy last

month, another "fake" prince has emerged and claimed to be the supposed

successor to His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk.

The owner of a brick kiln

in Kien Svay district, Kandal province, who asked not to be named, said his

father was one of the supporters of the man claiming to be Prince Norodom

Naradipo, who disappeared 23 years ago.

"He even had a letter

transferring the throne to show to old people," said the kiln owner who believes

the claim is a scam.

The kiln owner said that the man told his father

that seven men "who pretended to be himself" had been arrested, but not him who

is "the real prince."

The kiln owner, who lives in a village 25km

southeast of Phnom Penh, said the "fake" prince looked young, but that he told

everyone he was 54.

"He looks like [Prime Minister] Hun Sen, but a bit

shorter," he said. "He has a bent back like that of a shrimp."

He said

the "fake" prince would ride on a motorcycle and wear a helmet to cover his

face. Sometimes he drove an old, white Corolla car when he "comes and goes" to

Kien Svay.

He said his father had tried to convince all the children to

follow him, but that none of his brothers and sisters believed their

father.

Villagers in Prey Chhor district in Kompong Cham, where the

prince was moved to in 1975, and Julio A Jeldres, the official biographer to

King Sihanouk, are sick of rumors about Prince Naradipo.

Suon Sareoun,

who used to work and live with the prince at Tuck Chhar water reservoir during

the Khmer Rouge era, got upset when he came from work and found me questioning

his mother about the prince.

He said there were people coming to "cheat"

his mother out of the history of the prince and that they would fake his voice

to produce tapes for sale.

"I don't know what they really wanted," he

said angrily.

"I told my Mum 'Don't believe them'," he said of his mother,

who was the prince's godparent during at that time.

"If he's really

alive, he would come [to see them]," Sareoun told his mother, Hang

Vaing.

Neither did Muong in Kveth Thom village tolerate those who tried

to fake the prince's voice.

She said someone sent her two tapes recording the

voice of a man they claimed was Prince Naradipo.

"He had a similar voice,

but he seemed too proud [of himself]," she said, explaining that the prince was

reserved and never showed his pride.

According to an article written by

Jeldres, King Sihanouk's biographer, in the Bangkok Post in 1995, a cassette

tape purporting to contain a message from Prince Naradipo began circulating in

Phnom Penh in late November earlier.

The message, claimed that the prince

was well and was living in Kompong Thom and had visited Phnom Penh to address a

gathering of citizens.

The message quoted the prince as saying in the

meeting that he had been living in a Khmer Rouge "liberated zone" since

1975.

It claimed that King Sihanouk had counseled him to keep quiet in

Kampong Thom and not to make trouble like his half-brother Prince

Chakrapong.

Youk Chhang, head of the Documentation Center of Cambodia,

said he had not come across any information or files relating to Prince

Naradipo.

"It's not clear [whether he's dead or alive]," Chhang

said.

Chhang said his center is doing an investigation to find out

information about members of the Royal Family who were killed or went missing

during the Khmer Rouge era.

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