14th May 2008
By San Suwith (Radio Free Asia)
Reported in English by Khmerization
King Sihamoni is celebrating his birthday outside of the Royal Palace, this time in Kampong Cham province where his subjects organized a Buddhist ceremony at a local temple in his honour. The king also planned to fly to celebrate his birthday in a location near the historic temple of Preah Vihear on the Khmer-Thai border.
But in Phnom Penh, despite no grand parade and pompous celebration, the king’s pictures were placed along the roads and boulevards everywhere in his honour.
King Sihamoni was born to ex-king Sihanouk and Queen Monique on the 14th of May 1953. He was educated in Beijing and later completed his doctorate degree in classical dance from Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1971.
Between 1975-1976, he studied cinematography in North Korea. From 1975-1979 he lived under house arrest with his parents and his brother, Prince Norindrapong, at Khmamarin Palace in Phnom Penh.
From 1979-1980, he served as a private secretary to the then Prince Sihanouk. And from 1981 onward he served as a permanent representative of the Cambodian resistance to the United Nations, Cambodian Extraordinary Ambassador to the Unesco and also as the president of the Association of Khmer Artists in France.
King Sihamoni is conversant in many languages. Other than his native Khmer, he can speak French, Czech and English very proficiently.
He ascended to the throne on 14th October 2004, succeeding his father, King Sihanouk who had abdicated a second time a few weeks earlier.
Many political leaders hailed King Sihamoni as having a unique and special character.
Mr Ciem Yeap, MP from the Cambodian People’s Party, credited the king as having helped the country moving toward economic prosperity, judicial improvements and have helped solved political issues in the country.
Mr Keo Puth Rasmy, president of Funcinpec Party, said that the king has helped maintain national unity and peace in the country, despite acknowledging the king not being able to fulfill all his constitutional duties.
Mr Son Chhay, MP from the Sam Rainsy Party, said that the current king resides in the country more than the ex-king and therefore helped to ensure political stability. But he also said that the king is still unable to fulfill all his constitutional duties such as ensuring the independence of the judiciary and the army. Despite the king’s shortcomings, MP Son Chhay said that he does not blame the king for not fulfilling all his constitutional duties, but blames the government for not transferring all his constitutional powers to him.
Mr You Hockry, Secretary-General of the Norodom Ranariddh Party, said that the king is a symbol of national unity who can guarantee national independence, sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Cambodia.
Mr Kem Sokha, president of the Human Right Party, wish the king a long life, but also wish to see the king using all his constitutional powers to fulfill all his constitutional obligations. He believed that the king have not been able to fulfill all his duties. The case in point is that the king is a Commander-in-Chief but was and is still unable to ensure the neutrality of the army. Another example is that the king is presently the chairperson of the Council of Magistracy, but he is powerless to ensure the independence of the judiciary.
All civil societies as well as ordinary people have wished His Majesty good health and longevity.