Former King Sihanouk died
Norodom Sihanouk passed away in a Beijing hospital on 15 October, 2012, at 1:20am. He was born on October 31, 1922 and was crowned as King on April 25, 1941. I got this sad news the next morning via radio. I and my family were in Battambang province to celebrate the Pchum Ben, the national fest to mourn the deaths. This traditional fest is very important for Cambodians. We are required to go to pagodas and offer food and other necessary materials to the monks in order to devote to our relatives who passed away already. When we heard the announcement about the Former King’s death, we were very sad. But, we did not have access to electricity and television to get more information on that. My daughter kept me informed about it via telling me stories she got on FB. I write this short article to pay my utmost Respect to His Majesty, the Former King of Cambodia.
I can recall my memories about the Former King when I grew up in Ang Tasom, Takeo province; about 75 Km south of Phnom Penh, in the 60th. He was Head of State and was very popular among Cambodians, especially in rural areas. He was seen like God. He used to travel by helicopter to visit his subjects and to inaugurate schools, hospitals, factories, infrastructure’s projects etc…One day, I was traveling by bicycle with my father to Takeo provincial town to join the Royal Plowing Ceremony there, 12 Km from our small town. When we arrived, it was very crowded and we could not get closer to see him during the speech, but could hear his voice very clearly via loud speakers. He was a very good speaker. Cambodia enjoyed peace and prosperity at that time. He was the “Father of the Nation, Father of the national Independence, the national Education etc”.
Few years later, we saw a comet in the sky in the early morning, every morning for almost a month. Old people said that comet indicated bad omen for the country and Cambodia would face a civil war. Somebody believed it and some did not. Just months later, Prince Sihanouk, as Head of State, was removed by General Lon Nol and Prince Sisowath Siri Matak (his cousin), on March 18, 1970. It was followed by war and total destruction and political turmoil for the next three decades. During these dark periods, Sihanouk was seen or labeled as a nationalist, patriot, playboy, enemy, traitor, reactionary force, as persona non Grata etc… However, he managed to survive politically and returned back to Cambodia after the Paris Peace Agreement, as President of the Supreme National Council (SNC) in 1991. The mass welcomed him again as “Hero” and expected that “peace, prosperity, unity” will return to this country. It is to some degree “true”.
He played also important role in Cambodian politics again during the UNTAC period, in forming the new government after the National Election in 1993. He was re-installed as King in the Second Kingdom after the new constitution came into effect on September, 24, 1993. He has somehow political influence behind the scene until he dies. He managed to have his son, the current King Norodom Sihamoni, crowned as King of Cambodia in 2004.
Today, at 2:42 pm, his body arrived by a special plane from Beijing. The King’s mother, the King and the Prime Minister are accompanying him back to his beloved country. According to the tradition, his corps will be preserved for three months, before it will be cremated. He will leave us forever, but his legacy will remain within our hearts and minds. In private life, he loves music, art and film making. He is well known for his unlimited love to his “little people or petit peuple” and is remembered by the Cambodian people for his achievements during the “Golden Age of the 60th”. Love him or hate him, Norodom Sihanouk is a Hero for Cambodians, and is one of the Great political Leaders in Asia, if not on Earth.