One Week after the late King died
The King Father died during the last day of Buddhist Pchum Ben Days, on 15 October 2012, at 1:20am. In a few hours, there will be exactly one week after he passed away. On 17.10.12, I have observed two spectacular, natural phenomena happened: by the time the special plane carrying the body of Norodom Sihanouk touched down, big clouds came to cover and protect the afternoon sun providing shelters for mourners (lining up the streets to pay the last Respects to the body of the former King). In the evening, after his body arrived in the palace and everything is settled down, little rains (about 5 minutes) spurred over to bless the King. It is important to note that there were no rains days before and no drops one week after. Small rain is seen as good blessing, but thunderstorm rain is seen as bad natural blast for the death (who has committed many sins during his lifetime).
More than one million people came to see the King. Most of them busted in to tears including myself, who followed the scenes on the TV via live broadcasting. Even today, when I watched the TV showing many scenes in the Royal Palace and other documentary films, I could not help, but my tears just come down so naturally. On that day, government organized about 100,000 people, but the turnout is more than expected, especially the young people. Some came even from the provinces by trucks. It is really amazing to see that our former King commands such a “moral authority” and attract respect and love from his people, even after 42 years he was stripped of real political power by General Lon Nol in 1970. He was the King, who “reigns, but does not rules”, as stated in the Constitution. However, his political influence could not be underestimated. Even one week after, more and more people come to pay their last respects to him in front of the Royal Palace and throughout government’s offices, pagodas and schools all over the country.
In addition to TVs and radios, Facebook has been one of the main information providers of this special event. It has been used widely to share information, photos (old and new), and reflection notes on the former King and condolence expression. However, a small number of people used it to attack the former King. One “incident” took place caused by a female reporter of TV3 from Thailand, which could ignite unrest against Thailand. But, it was diffused on time. She had also apologized in the public, followed by her TV station, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand.
During these days, we have seen many documentary films, TV shows to talk about good memories, old photos, his CV, interviews of Cambodians… on TV and Newspapers etc. It is really moving. Many head of states, Prime Ministers from all over the world sent their heartfelt condolences to the Queen Mother, the King, Prime Minister and other dignitaries. Some came to pay their respects directly in the Royal Palace including the Prime Minister of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore and other ASEAN member states. In front of the Royal Palace, Cambodians from all walks of life come to pay their respects en mass.
Many people asked what happened next after Sihanouk died? Prime Minister Hun Sen, while in Beijing, committed in tears to the King’s Body that he will do in his capacity to “protect the Queen Mother, the King, the Royal Family and the Monarchy...” so that the soul of the former King should not be “worry” about it. He whispered loud enough so that everybody could hear his important message.
During His Birthday on October 31, 2011, N. Sihanouk mentioned: “I know that I cannot live longer anymore. Without me, you all have to love each other as ONE NATION…”It remains to be seen how our politicians would follow his advice. To me, at least three things that he is different from other political leaders in this country, in our modern history:
- His unconditional love of his country and his people;
- He is clean and not corrupt. He is one among only two political leaders, who publicly declared their assets. The other one is Mr. Sam Rainsy;
- He brought independence back and territorial integrity to his country.