Norodom Sihanouk: A Legacy
On 4 February, the official date for cremation of our beloved late King has been set. Tomorrow, his body will be brought from the Royal Palace to the site and it will remain there for three nights and four days. The government has made a lot of efforts to organize this royal ceremony and has spent large amount of money for all religious ceremonies in the past three months. Many people came to pay their last respect to the former King, either outside or inside the Palace, every day. It is actually more than expected, I would say.
We have to acknowledge that all preparation works have been done by the government in a professional manner, especially thanks to personal involvement of the Prime Minister during the whole process, after the late King passed away on 15 October 2012 in Beijing. Of course, PM tried to connect himself politically to the former King as much as he could and keep the opposition figures at the distance. Some events, which highlight this historical period in our society:
- The King, Queen’s mother and the Prime Minister flown to Peking to bring Norodom Sihanouk’s body back home on 17 October;
- 2 times seven-day mourning; in October and in February;
- At least $1.2 million was spent to construct the cremation site; modern and beautifully designed;
- Three months period in the Palace for people from all over the world and all provinces in Cambodia to pay their last respects. I have done my part with my family outside the Royal Palace. All visitors/mourners are welcome, except Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha, though both have sent written requests to pay their last respect. The letter of Sam Rainsy was rejected and a written request of Kem Sokha remains without response;
- New bank-note of 1,000 Riel released by the government to honor our late King;
- Almost 500 prisoners got amnesty and their sentence reduced during this special occasion, except “political prisoners” such as Mam Sonando and Sam Rainsy etc;
- Daily program and religious ceremony at the Royal Palace, shown every day in state TV;
- Achievements of the former King were shown repeatedly in TVs and on radios etc.
In comparison to the death of Pol Pot In 1998, the former leader of the Khmer Rouge, the late King commanded highest respects by Cambodians from all walks of life and foreign leaders alike, also after he died. Pol Pot was cremated by few old tires in the jungle (like a dog); even his long time friends and loyal subordinates such as Nuon Chea or Khieu Samphan were not present.
We will say bye-bye to Norodom Sihanouk forever in the next few days, but his legacy is in our hearts. Long Live Norodom Sihanouk!