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
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
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
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
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."