Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Warrior Prince' author welcomes King's comments

Warrior Prince' author welcomes King's comments

Warrior Prince' author welcomes King's comments

Harish Mehta, author of "Warrior Prince", a new biography of Prince Norodom

Ranariddh, has welcomed the King's extraordinary correspondence on the book since

it was launched September 22 in Bangkok.

"I welcome the several statements made by the King, and thank him for taking

the trouble to clarify so many matters," Mehta told the Post by email.

King Norodom Sihanouk has so far published 12 letters in response to the biography.

The letters criticize the statements of his son and set the record straight on a

range of issues regarding his role in Cambodian politics.

The King reiterated his position blaming the CIA for his downfall in 1970, while

admitting to living a playboy lifestyle in his youth. He also strongly criticized

the book's account of his cooperation with the Khmer Rouge during the 1980s.

"The King has always been an erudite man of letters," wrote Mehta. "During

his tenure as the chief of state, he published many publications, in which he wrote

brilliantly. His statements about the book are a reflection of his belief in a free

and vigorous press, and in making Cambodia a marketplace for the free exchange of

ideas."

Ranariddh has also criticized the book, claiming the author misrepresented him, misquoted

him and attempted to create divisions between himself and the King. These are all

charges Mehta denies.

"The Prince was never misquoted - not once in the entire book. I have no need

to create any divisions. Prince Ranariddh had the courage to speak openly about how

distant and aloof his father was, and how he was persuaded by his father to abandon

his pursuit of political power and merge Funcinpec with the CPP," Mehta wrote

from Bangkok.

Sihanouk's official biographer, Julio Jeldres, has also weighed into the debate.

In a letter published by the King in the "Bulletin Mensuel De Documentation",

Jeldres accuses Mehta of racism for indicating that the Queen has traces of Vietnamese

blood.

This, said Jeldres, was a false allegation made by opponents of the Cambodian monarchy.

Jeldres closed his letter by assuring Mehta that "the people who are bank-rolling

your effort against the Royal Family of Cambodia will reward you handsomely for your

valuable contribution to the destruction of the Cambodian monarchy".

But Mehta said he stands by his statements in the book and by the veracity of Ranariddh's

comments. He said the book reflects "Ranariddh's innermost feelings on a lot

of issues".

Mehta also rejected as "wild conjecture" allegations that he was paid to

write the book, saying he had used his own money for the project.

He added that he and Ranariddh had been "very close to each other" and

heaped praise on the National Assembly President.

"He is a dynamic leader [who] commands respect among the rank and file of the

party. Under his leadership, Funcinpec will remain a major political party, with

a fair chance of forming a government in future.

"I expect he will retain the leadership of the party till such time as

he is chosen by the Throne Council to become the King. I don't see him quitting politics

at all. I don't think his partymen will allow him to quit either, as he remains their

most credible leader. His departure would certainly leave the party headless."

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