News / Asia

Cambodia Unveils Statue of Former King Sihanouk

A bird stands on the head of a statue of the late King Norodom Sihanouk during the statue's unveiling ceremony in central Phnom Penh, Oct. 11, 2013.
A bird stands on the head of a statue of the late King Norodom Sihanouk during the statue's unveiling ceremony in central Phnom Penh, Oct. 11, 2013.
Robert Carmichael
— Nearly one year ago Cambodia’s former head of state, King Father Norodom Sihanouk, died in Beijing at the age of 89. On Friday, hundreds of dignitaries watched as a statue of the father of Cambodian independence was unveiled in central Phnom Penh.
 
The death in October 2012 of Norodom Sihanouk - a dominant figure in 20th century Cambodia - was a seminal moment for the kingdom.
 
On October 17 last year, tens of thousands of people lined Phnom Penh’s streets to witness the return of his body from China, where he had been receiving medical treatment. Sihanouk’s body lay in state for three months and was cremated in February in accordance with Buddhist rites.
 
On Friday, the city inaugurated a giant statue of the late king in a park alongside a boulevard bearing Sihanouk’s name.
 
Sihanouk’s nephew and long-time personal assistant, Prince Sisowath Thomico, said the statue is a fitting memorial.
 
“He was the symbol of Cambodia, he was the symbol of the nation. That’s the reason why during his funeral ceremonies so many people came to the Royal Palace, were on the streets, because they felt, each one of them, they felt they were part of the Cambodian nation,” said Thomico.
 
However, there is one element of the statue that puzzles Thomico; as far as he is concerned, it barely resembles his late uncle.
 
 “I don’t know who it does look like, but it doesn’t look like the King Father. I think there are some disproportions, you know in the body and in the head,” explained Thomico.
 
Friday’s opening ceremony was attended by Sihanouk’s widow, Queen Mother Monineath, and by the couple’s son, the current monarch, King Norodom Sihamoni, as well as many ruling party politicians.
 
18-year-old Kom Ratha, a member of Cambodia’s Boy Scouts movement, attended Friday’s ceremony as well.
 
“It has meaning for people in Cambodia because people always love him - so we make it to remind the people to know him - that he [has] made a lot of things for Cambodia. He has spent his life for Cambodia… I am happy to see this because the statue, it looks like him - it looks like he is alive,” said Ratha.
 
Norodom Sihanouk’s legacy remains mixed, but many view his rule during the 1950s and 1960s as the country’s Golden Age, as the time Sihanouk secured independence for Cambodia and significantly improved health and education.
 
However, after parliament ousted Sihanouk in a bloodless coup in 1970, he aligned himself with Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge and called on his people to join the Communists. Thousands obeyed, and five years later the Khmer Rouge took control, ushering in an era of mass killings, starvation and slavery.
 
That alliance cost Sihanouk and his country dearly, and remained his biggest regret.
 
Prince Thomico says Sihanouk’s death showed the ruling party how popular the former king still was among ordinary people, and as a result the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has tried to co-opt the symbolism of the monarchy.
 
Thomico, who joined the opposition party earlier this year, said much of the rationale for erecting the statue is to boost the ruling CPP’s image.
 
“Well, I would say 99 percent. I don’t believe that the CPP’s really monarchist, royalist. I would rather believe that they are more opportunist than really royalist. So I think that 99 percent of their intentions were to control the monarchy, and what the monarchy symbolizes in Cambodian society,” said Thomico.
 
Cambodia’s opposition is still boycotting the National Assembly sessions in protest over July elections that they say were deeply flawed. The 55 opposition lawmakers-elect say their absence makes any decision by the 68 ruling party lawmakers unconstitutional. Party leader Sam Rainsy continues to lobby international groups to not recognize the new government led by long serving Prime Minister Hun Sen.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Khmer living abroad
October 15, 2013 12:50 AM
Statue for the communist king of Cambodia, he's the enemy of the kingdom.


by: Lon nol from: Cambodia
October 11, 2013 3:06 PM
The statue should not have been erected. 2 millions of my country men, women, and children have died in vain. Sihanouk should have been executed.

In Response

by: lon nol baby
October 12, 2013 2:38 PM
hey you lon nol relax okay no one need executed okay. that bad not way of khmer buddha

In Response

by: Anonymous
October 12, 2013 12:39 PM
90% of Cambodians know of cpp gvt fed propaganda.

Some of the recent facts:
$5 millions for his state funerals footed by China... $1.2 for memorial statue for a man who embraced Red China and the Khmer Rouge that nearly killed 2 millions Cambodians...(WHERE is their memorial MONUMENT?) Even dead Vietnamese soldiers, the "liberators" (from one communist system to another communist one) have one dedicated monument and a national holiday!

Actually, since 1975 Cambodia was and is always being governed by a communist regime: China backed Sihanouk and Vietnam backed CPP and Hun Sen.

The Cambodian constitution, the "supreme law", that dictates the principles of democracy, is USELESS in a royal communist
country...unless the people start to READ and DEMAND their constitutional rights.

Half the people is waken up to demand their constitutional rights, but the other half still lives in the past, indolent, gregarious, oppressive system.

And why is the need of such statue when the Cambodians can always look up a likely King's face on the moon!

In Response

by: Gaston from: Cambodia
October 12, 2013 9:32 AM
as you are the fan of enemy of King Sihanouk so you though that is useless to use 2M to build his statue but most of 90% of Cambodian want this in this country.


by: Anonymous
October 11, 2013 2:42 PM
Sihanouk is the first to be a royal communist, living in a lap of luxury and ruling the people under a communist regime.
In the last 28 years this has been the model for all CPP party living as Samdechs ruling the people with communist policies without any benefits.

LONG LIVE CPP!

In Response

by: anonymous
October 11, 2013 7:25 PM
What a shame ! Only poor country like Cambodia is spending that much $$ for a king that failed his people.


by: Ly horn from: Phnom penh
October 11, 2013 10:40 AM
I love to heard this news.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid