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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid