For sincere condolence, love and shared responsibility of Cambodian nation: special collection of news outlets regarding Somdech Ta King Norodom Sihanouk

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For sincere condolence, love and shared responsibility of Cambodian nation: special collection of news outlets regarding Somdech Ta King Norodom Sihanouk

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Cambodia’s Mercurial Former King, Norodom Sihanouk, Dies at 89

Cambodia’s former King Norodom Sihanouk greets his subjects at the annual crop-planting ceremony outside the royal palace in Phnom Penh on April 30, 2002 (Chor Sokunthea / Files / Reuters)
Cambodia’s former King Norodom Sihanouk, pictured in July 1941 (AP)
The former monarch, who died Monday in Beijing at 89, was at various times a playboy prince, a teenage King, an independence leader, an elected Prime Minister, an exile and, later, a peace negotiator
By Kay Johnson | October 15, 2012
Time Magazine (USA)
In the end, he couldn’t script a happy ending for Cambodia.
Filmmaking was a favorite hobby of Cambodia’s former King Norodom Sihanouk, and in his long, extraordinary life, he played enough roles to fill a Hollywood epic. The former monarch, who died Monday in Beijing at 89, was at various times a playboy prince, a teenage King, an independence leader, an elected Prime Minister, an exile and, later, a peace negotiator. Along the way, he found time to compose jazz tunes, throw champagne-soaked soirées and rub shoulders with the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru, Charles de Gaulle, Mao Zedong, Jacqueline Kennedy, Sukarno and Kim Il Sung. The part he loved to play most, though, was that of Samdech Euv, or Papa King, to the Cambodian people, known as the Khmer. “My people love and admire me and respect me so very much,” he once said. “They continue to believe I am a god-king.”
Though he cast himself as heroic, Sihanouk, like the country he once led and long symbolized, was most defined by tragedy. His carefully cultivated status as a benevolent and glamorous ruler wasmarred by his cooperation with the murderous Khmer Rouge, whose “killing fields” regime of the 1970s left 1.7 million dead. It was a decision that cost him dearly: he himself was held prisoner by the Khmer Rouge, who killed five of his 14 children. His passing is a reminder of a long-past era when Southeast Asia, not Afghanistan and Pakistan, was the focus of a protracted U.S. war. During the Vietnam War, Cambodia was carpet bombed by the Nixon Administration trying to root out “safe havens” across the border, an eerie precursor to today’s drone campaign in northwestern Pakistan.
The mercurial Sihanouk was a man of contradictions — an avowed Cambodian patriot who wrote mostly in French, a man who sought peace for his people, but whose decisions seemed to lead them, time and again, to disaster. “Sihanouk was certainly one of the most interesting leaders of the 20th century,” said Milton Osborne, author of the critical biography Sihanouk: Prince of Light, Prince of Darkness. “But I wouldn’t say he was one of the best leaders.”

 
Crowned King at age 18 under French rule, the young monarch surprised almost everyone by proving himself a canny political operator. He helped secure independence from a reluctant France in 1953 and then, two years later, blindsided those calling for him to give up absolute power by abdicating the throne to enter politics himself. His Sangkum Reastr Niyum party dominated the political scene for the next decade. Having secured power, Sihanouk — still in his 30s — set about becoming one of Asia’s most convivial hosts, leading Jacqueline Kennedy on a tour of the famed Angkor temples in 1967 and feting his longtime role model, Charles de Gaulle, in a 1966 state visit. He threw legendary palace parties, playing jazz saxophone along with the bands — once stopping, Osborne recalled, to announce “un petit numéro que j’ai composé moi-meme” (a little number I wrote myself).
Not all was champagne and caviar, though. Sihanouk liked to refer to his country as “an oasis of peace” amid Indochina’s wars, but his authoritarian rule was riddled with corruption and decisions that sowed theseeds of Cambodia’s suffering. Across Cambodia’s eastern border, the Vietnam War was raging. Despite his declarations of neutrality, Sihanouk allowed Vietnamese communists to operate in his eastern territories, where they launched attacks into South Vietnam. The move infuriated Washington, and in 1969, Richard Nixon ordered secret carpet bombing of Cambodia. Back in Phnom Penh, Sihanouk was facing his own communist insurgency and himself derisively gave the guerrillas a name that stuck: les Khmers rouges, “the red Khmers.”
During all this turmoil, Sihanouk was increasingly distracted by his new hobby: filmmaking. In the mid- to late 1960s, he wrote, produced and directed nine films. His leading role in Cambodian politics came to an abrupt end in 1970, however, when right-wing general Lon Nol seized power while Sihanouk was abroad. Sihanouk accused the CIA of orchestrating the coup — a charge that was never proved, though Washington promptly recognized Lon Nol’s government. In exile in Beijing, Sihanouk declared support for the communist Khmer Rouge rebels he had once persecuted. The guerrillas named Sihanouk their titular head, and in 1973, Sihanouk traveled with the Khmer Rouge into rebel-held western Cambodia with his favorite wife, Monique, to pose at one of the outer Angkor temples, dressed in the rebels’ trademark black pajamas.
After the Khmer Rouge finally took Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975, Sihanouk issued a statement from Beijing lauding the victory over American imperialism.He soon returned to Phnom Penh asnominal chief of state, but he then found himself in a nightmare of unimaginable proportions. Declaring “Year Zero” in a new peasants’ paradise, the Khmer Rouge had closed the country’s borders, emptied cities and force-marched the entire populace into mass-farming collectives and executing anyone who showed signs of education. Tens of thousands were tortured to death, family life was banned and children were raised by agents of “Ankar” (the organization), led by the shadowy Pol Pot.Sihanouk and Monique, by comparison,lived well — they occasionally bought imported French food and were even allowed to keep their pet terrier — but he was effectively prisoner in his own palace. Alarmed by the carnage he saw, Sihanouk resigned his position in the Khmer Rouge government in 1976 and spent the next two and a half years in constant fear for his life.
The Khmer Rouge’s reign ended in 1979 after Vietnam, disgusted with its onetime ally, invaded Cambodia. Sihanouk was spirited out of the country and, after escaping his Khmer Rouge minders, condemned the former regime. But he also opposed the Vietnamese occupiers and founded a noncommunist liberation front that allied with the remaining Khmer Rouge armies to fight the Vietnamese. Cambodia once more descended into civil war. In exile again, Sihanouk split his time between guest palaces in Beijing and Pyongyang (North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung was a close friend), where, according to his longtime personal secretary, Chilean-born Julio A. Jeldres, he lobbied for peace as early as 1979. “He was always an advocate of talks,” Jeldres says. “But he was opposed by China, the Red Khmers and the U.S., who wanted the guerrilla warfare to continue.”
By the late 1980s, with the Cold War coming to an end, all sides were finally ready to talk, and Sihanouk took on a new role as peacemaker. In 1987, he met with Cambodia’s Vietnamese-installed Prime Minister, Hun Sen, and later participated in talks that led to the 1991 peace settlement. The party Sihanouk founded, Funcinpec, won U.N.-administrated elections in 1993, but Hun Sen’s party refused to recognize the election results. Sihanouk brokered a compromise in which he would take the throne as a constitutional monarch and one of his sons, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, would share power with Hun Sen as a co-Prime Minister.
Sihanouk returned to the throne in 1993, but it soon became clear that Hun Sen had replaced him as Cambodia’s master political manipulator. Though many Cambodians respected the King as the country’s ultimate moral voice, the political factions rarely listened. Four years after the elections, Hun Sen ousted Ranariddh in a coup and has maneuvered through two disputed elections to remain in power since. The King expressed his displeasure by spending more and more time in Beijing, releasing statements that implicitly — but rarely openly — criticized the corruption and violence in Cambodia. He also repeatedly threatened to abdicate. He finally made good on the last point, stepping down from the throne for a second time in late 2004. His son King Norodom Sihamoni now reigns, but Hun Sen holds all the real power.
Toward the end of his life, Sihanouk, the monarch who once directed his country as if it were his own personal movie, was increasingly reduced to cameo appearances. History will judge how much responsibility Sihanouk bears for Cambodia’s agony or whether he, like his country, was simply a victim of history, caught between forces he could not control. “Unfortunately, I am not a god. I am a human being,” he lamented in 1997. In the end, he couldn’t script a happy ending for Cambodia.

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Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk dies at 89

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:17 PM EDT, Sun October 14, 2012
Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk greets well-wishers in front of Phnom Penh's Royal Palace in 2002.
Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk greets well-wishers in front of Phnom Penh’s Royal Palace in 2002.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sihanouk was monarch for more than 60 years
  • He died in Beijing after suffering from various diseases
  • He abdicated the throne in 2004 and his son became king

(CNN) — Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk, who was monarch for more than 60 years until his abdication in 2004, died early Monday in Beijing at the age of 89, state news reported.

Sihanouk died of natural causes after having been treated by Chinese doctors for years for various forms of cancer, diabetes and hypertension, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported, citing Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Nhik Bun Chhay.

The “royal government” will bring the late king’s body back to his homeland for a traditional funeral, according to Cambodia’s official AKP news agency. Xinhua reported that Sihanouk’s son, King Norodom Sihamoni, will fly to Beijing later Monday to receive his father’s body for burial.

Health problems led Sihanouk to announce his abdication in October 2004 while he was in Beijing for treatment, according to the king’s official website.

A panel elected Sihamoni as the new king. Cambodia’s National Assembly then decided to give Sihanouk the title of King Father, allowing him the same privileges he has as the reigning monarch, according to his website.

Sihanouk saw Cambodia go from French rule to independence, then to the brutal Khmer Rouge regime and the guerrilla war that followed its toppling. He then watched his country develop into the constitutional monarchy it is today.

He came from a royal lineage, but it was France that placed Sihanouk on the throne in 1941, according to the foreign ministry of Australia, which has played a key role in Cambodia’s transition toward peace.

The king dissolved the nation’s parliament in 1953, which helped bring about Cambodia’s independence.

Two years later, he abdicated the throne to his father but remained active as Cambodia’s prime minister. In 1960, he became the South Asian nation’s head of state following his father’s death.

In the 1960s, amid a region simmering with conflicts such as the Vietnam War, Cambodia soon became home to a number of North Vietnamese training camps. That prompted U.S. air strikes on those camps in 1969.

The following year, U.S.-backed Gen. Lon Nol declared a coup d’etat while the king was on an official visit to the Soviet Union and abolished the monarchy. The king went into exile in China and led a resistance movement, while the Khmer Rouge gradually gained strength.

The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, rose to power in April 1975 and began a period of mass killings, public executions and torture centers. While no one knows for certain how many people were killed by the Khmer Rouge, experts estimated 1.7 million fatalities — or at least a fifth of Cambodia’s population.

Sihanouk himself lost five children and 14 grandchildren at the hands of the Khmer Rouge.

Sihanouk was allowed to return to the country in 1976 but was confined to the royal palace until Pol Pot was overthrown three years later. He was away from Cambodia from 1979 to 1991.

The king subsequently became president of the new republic, but it wasn’t until 1993 — when Cambodia held its first parliamentary elections — that the king’s powers were restored and Cambodia became a constitutional monarchy.

Elizabeth Becker, the author of “When the War Was Over: Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge Revolution,” told CNN after the king abdicated in 2004 that Sihanouk was “larger than life” and brought both good and bad to his country.

He tried to bring Cambodia into the modern world and protect it from its neighbors, but he brought about divisions in the process, she said.

“He threw his prestige and politics behind the Khmer Rouge when they started the rebellion and it was his name that helped convince a lot of peasants to go along with the Khmer Rouge,” Becker told CNN.

“Then later, after the Vietnamese invasion, he continued to help the Khmer Rouge at the United Nations with political prestige, so his is a very checkered legacy.”

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King a changing constant

Returned to the throne … Norodom Sihanouk in in 1973.

October 17, 2012
Telegraph, London

NORODOM SIHANOUK, 1922-2012
Norodom Sihanouk was the King of Cambodia, although only intermittently a monarch. However, for more than half a century, he played a leading part in the tragic postwar history of his country.
Sihanouk’s character was as unpredictable as his fortunes, for he combined the characteristics of an educated Frenchman and an Oriental despot. His generosity and good humour were genuine, and enabled him to pose with some conviction as the father of his people. On the other hand, he was capable of ruthlessness and a disregard for the processes of law, as in the execution of political opponents.
Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk was born in Phnom Penh on October 31, 1922, the scion of two much-intermarried royal families, the Norodoms and the Sisowaths, who had ruled Cambodia for several hundred years. His father, Prince Norodom Suramarit, was the grandson of King Norodom, ruler of the turbulent vestigial kingdom when the French first imposed their protectorate in 1863.
Sihanouk was educated in Saigon and Paris. In 1941, when he was chosen to succeed his grandfather King Monivong, he was still at the Lycee Chasseloup Laubat in Saigon.

French Indochina was then under Japanese hegemony, though the influence of Tokyo was kept precariously at arm’s length by the pro-Axis policy of Vichy, but, after World War II, as Indochinese independence became imminent, Sihanouk skilfully disentangled himself from the French and exchanged the easy, futile life of puppet king for the risky role of national leader.
At first, the French refused to give Cambodia the full independence that Sihanouk was demanding. But, in February 1953, after they had tried to fob him off with a lunch at the Elysee with President Auriol, he flew to Canada, the US and Japan to ventilate his grievances, notably in a flamboyant interview with The New York Times.
Back in Cambodia, Sihanouk stayed out of French control and moved to his villa at Siem Reap, close to Angkor, the capital of his ancient Khmer ancestors. There, in a daring bluff, he stirred up the population in his support.
His threat sufficed to persuade the French to give in and to grant Cambodia full independence on November 9, 1953. And by 1955, when Cambodia became financially viable in its own right, Sihanouk’s reputation had been further enhanced.
Sihanouk, though, proceeded to abdicate his throne in favour of his father. His aim, to give himself a more solid political base, abundantly succeeded, for the Sangkum Reastr Niyum, or Popular Socialist Community, which he set up, won 83 per cent of the vote in the election of 1955.
From then until 1970, Sihanouk ruled supreme. When his father died in 1961, he assumed the office of head of state but retained only the title of Samdech Upayuvareach, ”his royal highness, the former king”, styled as Monseigneur. His mother became the ceremonial representative of the ancient monarchy.
Sihanouk strove to solve Cambodia’s economic and social problems through the idiosyncratic ideology of ”royal Buddhist socialism”. His aim was ”a democracy comprehensible to the people”, in which the untutored masses would exercise ”a real, direct and continuous control of institutions”.
Throughout the late 1950s and the 1960s, Sihanouk’s most serious concern was to keep Cambodia out of the escalating war in Vietnam. This aim involved a hardening of the anti-American prejudice he inherited from the French – even if he continued to accept American aid.
Keen to remain neutral, Sihanouk refused to place the country under the protection of the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation. Instead, he tightened relations with prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India, president Sukarno of Indonesia and president Josip Tito of Yugoslavia. Zhou Enlai, the Chinese leader, became a close friend.
In November 1963, Sihanouk, convinced that the South Vietnamese and the Thais were preparing, with American approval, to invade Cambodia, ordered an end to the US military aid program, cutting off 15 per cent of the national budget. In March 1964, he organised a ”spontaneous” demonstration of anger against the British and American embassies. Trade was nationalised, private banks were closed. In 1967, the army was ordered to collect much of the rice harvest at an official price and to store it in government warehouses. At Samlaut, near Battambang, peasant resentment turned into armed revolt during which some 10,000 fleeing farmers were killed.
As the situation deteriorated, Sihanouk seemed to lose his political instinct. He also devoted much time to making sentimental feature films, of which he was writer, producer, director and principal actor.
In March 1970, during Sihanouk’s absence in Europe, the National Assembly in Phnom Penh withdrew its support and he was removed from office by a coup d’etat planned by his pro-Western cousin Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak and executed by the previously loyal general Lon Nol, the prime minister and minister of defence. The monarchy was abolished and Cambodia declared a republic.
Sihanouk fled to Beijing and allied himself with the extreme pro-Chinese Communist group of Cambodian revolutionaries, the Khmer Rouge, whom he had driven into exile.
His ”Royal Government of National Unity” (known as GRUNK), based in Beijing, was dedicated to the defeat of Lon Nol and his Khmer Rouge minder was Ieng Sary, later one of the most feared men in Cambodia.
In 1975, the Khmer Rouge, with North Vietnamese military help, captured Phnom Penh and instituted their genocidal regime. The city population was forced out into the countryside – ”the Killing Fields” – where perhaps more than 1 million Cambodians died in massacres ordered by Khieu Samphan, the Khmer Rouge president, and his prime minister, Pol Pot.
Sihanouk, though nominally head of state, had become a cat’s paw in their hands. He was allowed to return to Phnom Penh but was confined with his wife, Monique, to a modest villa in the Royal Palace compound, where he was required to do his own cooking. Six of his children, as well as other members of the royal family, were killed or died from maltreatment.
In 1978, Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia, in a war provoked by Pol Pot. Only hours before the Vietnamese occupation of Phnom Penh, Sihanouk was freed, probably at Chinese instigation, and flown to Beijing, where he gave a six-hour press conference in which he denounced the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnam invasion.
Sihanouk retreated to a palace provided by the North Korean government in Pyongyang. Under pressure from Beijing, he agreed in 1982 to a political marriage of convenience with Khieu Samphan, whom he had condemned to death in the 1960s, and Son Sann, a right-wing Buddhist who expressed contempt for his former king.
Their squabbles continued through a series of abortive international negotiations until, in June 1991, Sihanouk finally persuaded the Cambodian factions to declare a ceasefire. That October the accord was ratified at a Paris conference, which restored Sihanouk as head of state. Soon afterwards, Sihanouk returned in triumph to Phnom Penh.
As the violence continued throughout 1992, Sihanouk protested against the terrorist tactics of his opponents. Nevertheless, in the election of May 1993, Funcinpec, the royalist party led by his son Ranariddh, won 45 per cent of the vote.
There was a fortnight of political chaos, which Sihanouk resolved by declaring himself head of state, prime minister and chief of the armed forces. By early July, he had succeeded in establishing an interim government, with Ranariddh and Hun Sen, leader of the Cambodian People’s Party, as joint prime ministers.
Sihanouk pledged that he would resist the popular clamour (led by Ranariddh) to return to the throne but, in September, when the National Assembly restored the monarchy, he found himself compelled to accept their decision.
In 1997, Hun Sen led a successful coup and remains in power to this day. Sihanouk’s influence diminished and he abdicated in 2004, citing ill health.
Sihanouk had two official wives, Princess Thavet Norleak (his first cousin) and Princess Monique (nee Izzi), daughter of a French entrepreneur of Italian origin. The elder of Monique’s two sons, Sihamoni, succeeded his father as king, and seven other children survive him.
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Cambodians mourn Sihanouk, their King Father

The Los Angeles Times, Mark Magnier
October 15, 2012
NEW DELHI — As word spread Monday that former King Norodom Sihanouk had died of a heart attack in Beijing at age 89, hundreds of thousands of Cambodians gathered in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh to mourn.
The impoverished nation, still emerging from decades of war, flew flags at half staff and announced a national week of mourning beginning Wednesday, according to local media. Top leaders, including King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen, flew to Beijing on Monday morning to bring home Sihanouk’s body for a traditional funeral at the palace.
Sihanouk reportedly laid out in a letter in January that he wanted to be cremated, with his ashes placed in an urn, preferably made of gold, in a stupa at the palace. His body will be on public display for three months before the funeral, the Phnom Penh Post reported, quoting Sihanouk’s longtime personal assistant Prince Sisowath Thomico.
Sihanouk, a quixotic and mercurial leader, held considerable power in the 1950s and 1960s after helping secure independence from the French. But in the 1970s, he became something of a puppet to the Khmer Rouge during its reign of terror, a period captured in the 1984 Academy Award-winning film “The Killing Fields.”
The controversial leader, whom Cambodians refer to as the King Father, lived in Beijing for most of his last decade in failing health. But his seven decades on the political scene left many Cambodians feeling a great sense of loss, having never known life without him.
“Either love him or hate him, the King Father had been a figure from whom we lived and learned about our collective history,” said Theary C. Seng, founder of the Cambodian Center for Justice and Reconciliation in Phnom Penh, the nation’s capital. “His life, his reign, his politics have so infiltrated, impacted and altered the lives of every living Cambodian, young or old, during the 70-plus years in which he played a national role.”
Sihanouk was often condescending, Seng said, as seen by his habit of calling Cambodians his “children.” His policies led to great repression and suffering as well as great laughter and freedom. “He was a man of great ironies,” Seng said. “Cambodia will feel the void of his presence for years to come.”

Much of the country was headed to Cambodia’s 4,000-plus temples on Monday for the last day of a holiday honoring deceased relatives when Cambodians got word of his death, said Youk Chhang, head of the Cambodian Documentation Center in Phnom Penh.
“They were shocked by the news that our king had also passed away,” he added. “Everyone was speechless. At his age, he [still] looked so very healthy.”
Julio A. Jeldres, the king’s official biographer and a member of his staff from 1981 to 1991, said most Cambodians in rural areas credit Sihanouk with promoting national consciousness and preventing the country from becoming entangled in the war that devastated neighboring Vietnam and Laos in the 1960s and ’70s.
During his years as an honorary member of the king’s Cabinet, Jeldres said, he never saw him lose his charm, manners or sense of humor. “He often had to maneuver and use shock treatment to get the best possible result for his people,” Jeldres said.
He said Sihanouk was fully aware in 1970 that the Khmer Rouge didn’t like him, but thought the movement was directed by more moderate leaders rather than the infamous Pol Pot. It was only on a secret visit to Cambodia in 1973 that the exiled king realized “what he thought were ‘pure patriots’ were in fact ‘cruel Stalinists,’” Jeldres said. “But by then it was too late and most of Sihanouk’s supporters in the jungle were murdered.”
Filmmaker Kalyanee Mam was screening her recent documentary, “A River Changes Course,” about Cambodia’s Cham Muslim hill tribe minority Monday in Koh Kong province when she heard that Sihanouk had died. Most Cambodians tend to remember Sihanouk the way he portrayed himself in the media, as a fatherly patriot and philanthropist, she said.
“For the common people, I think they see him as a one-dimensional figure,” Mam said. “But to move forward as a nation, we need a more three-dimensional view.”
ALSO:
— Mark Magnier
Photo: Cambodians pray for former King Norodom Sihanouk during a ceremony at the main gate of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh on Monday. Sihanouk, 89, died Sunday in Beijing. Credit: Mak Remissa / European Pressphoto Agency
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Cambodia’s Former King Leaves Mixed Legacy

The Cambodian king and his entourage outside the palace that Kim Il-sung built for him at Changsuwon, south of Pyongyang, in 1981.
16.10.2012
By Daniel Schearf, VOA
The passing of Cambodia’s former King Norodom Sihanouk has ended an ambitious and controversial era for an influential monarch. A mixed legacy remains from a king who guided his country to independence, but also aligned himself with the notorious Khmer Rouge.
Sihanouk was chosen by France in 1941 to be a puppet leader for its colony.
The young king became a unifying force pushing for independence, however, which he achieved in 1953. He then abdicated his throne for politics and effectively served as the country’s ruler for the next 17 years.
Milton Osborne is a visiting fellow at Sydney’s Lowy Institute and an author of two books on Sihanouk.
“In Cambodia, there’s something of a belief that the period of Sihanouk time, as it’s referred to in Cambodia, was a sort of golden age. People tend to forget the period when he was ready to unleash fearsome pursuit of those he saw as his enemies,” said Osborne.

Khmer Rouge era
Those enemies included Cambodia’s communists who would later become the Khmer Rouge.
During the Vietnam war, Sihanouk failed to stop Vietnam’s communist forces from crossing into Cambodia, leading to U.S. bombings. He was deposed in a 1970 military coup and fled into exile in China and North Korea.
Sihanouk’s desire to regain power led him to align himself with his former enemies, the communists. This political shift led to foreign alliances that continued for the rest of his life.
Benny Widyono was a U.N. representative to Cambodia in the mid 1990s and author of the book “Dancing in Shadows: Sihanouk, the Khmer Rouge, and the U.N. in Cambodia.”
“During that period when he was still with the Khmer Rouge, his two friends were [North] Korea and China, and he spent a lot of time there,” said Widyono.
Palace in Pyongyang
The Cambodian king’s ties to North Korea were such that leader Kim Il Sung built him a 60-room palace in Pyongyang.
He gets the treatment of a real king there in his palace there in North Korea and he even gets, has a present from the [North] Korean government to have his bodyguards. These are all very burly North Koreans, you know, very no-nonsense bodyguards. And, until all the time he has these North Korean bodyguards with him,” said Widyono.
The Khmer Rouge returned Sihanouk to Cambodia where they used his image as a way to gain legitimacy. Afterward, he was placed under arrest in the palace.
During this time, Sihanouk could only watch as the Khmer Rouge went on to starve, work, and murder as many as 2 million Cambodians.
In 1979, he fled again to China as Vietnam invaded Cambodia, ending the Khmer Rouge regime.
Constitutional monarchy
United Nations-sponsored elections helped return Sihanouk to the throne under a constitutional monarchy. But he had little power, while his son, Norodom Ranariddh, shared a dual prime minister position with Hun Sen.
Sihanouk never regained the influence he once had in Cambodia, which Widyono said was a lifelong disappointment for Sihanouk.
“When I was there in Cambodia he complained to me, when I was the ambassador of the U.N., he complained to me that he is their king that reigns, but does not rule because it’s really Hun Sen and Ranariddh, the two prime ministers, who have the power. So, he feels like he is always this goal of him to be the leader of a prosperous Cambodia has eluded him all his life,” said Widyono.
Hun Sen ousted Ranariddh in 1997, becoming the sole power in Cambodia.
Sihanouk remembered
As King Sihanouk’s power waned, and his health deteriorated, he made frequent trips to China for medical treatment. In 2004 he gave up the throne for his son King Norodom Sihamoni.
Osborne said King Sihamoni, unlike his father, has no political ambitions.
“There will never be another king who played the role that Sihanouk played. And, certainly not a king that had his political power and his interest in politics,” said Osborne. “The present king is a devoted servant of his country, but he has no political role. He’s determinably apolitical. So, that with Sihanouk, I think an era has gone.”
Sihanouk died Monday in Beijing just days before his birthday following a long battle with cancer.
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Remembering the life of ‘Monseigneur Papa’ Sihanouk

17/10/2012
Jacques Bekaert is a former Bangkok Post writer
Bangkok Post

“This is my pride. You can accuse me of everything you want, but never of having stolen one penny from my people.”

King Norodom Sihanouk died on Monday in Beijing. Alive, he was often misunderstood, especially in the West where they mistook his apparent volte-face for instability. History will tell that he was one of the great sovereigns of recent times.
The West berated him for believing he was indispensable to his people. But all good kings must identify with their people – His Majesty King Bhumibol is the most magnificent example of this.
When the French chose him to be the king of Cambodia, their protectorate, they thought he would be easy to manipulate, that he was a young playboy interested only in American actresses and basketball.
How wrong they were.
After a few years of trials and tribulations, he became obsessed with the independence of his kingdom and launched his non-violent campagne pour l’independence. He achieved this independence without firing a shot in 1953, before Vietnam and Laos gained theirs.

But Sihanouk was not interested in being king – he wanted to enter politics. Accordingly, he resigned and became Prince Sihanouk, Monseigneur Papa, to his people (Samdech Euv in Cambodian), the closest English equivalent of which is His Excellency Father.
He proved an able politician, manoeuvring with incredible ability amid the difficulties of post-colonial Southeast Asian politics.
His hero was General Charles de Gaulle, the first Frenchman to resist Nazi occupation of his country in 1940.
Sihanouk followed the advice given by de Gaulle in his historic speech at the Phnom Penh Olympic Stadium in 1966: Stay neutral, and don’t get involved in the Indochina war.
I met Sihanouk for the first time on April 4, 1963, after he left Pyongyang to France, where his father possessed a small two-room villa in Grasse, in the Cote d’Azur. Sihanouk’s “palace”, as the Left loved to call it, was very modest, along the main road, facing a noisy garage specialising in revamping old tyres. The smell was often terrible.
He offered me a glass of coke; Princess Monique was in the kitchen preparing a Chinese soup. The only servant, an old man, was sleeping in the garage. There was no car, no dame de compagnie, and no money.
As we took some pictures in the little garden, he showed me his empty pocket, and said: “This is my pride. You can accuse me of everything you want, but never of having stolen one penny from my people.” He lived off a modest pension given to him by the new president of France, Francois Mitterrand, and a few gifts sent by Cambodians who had escaped the Khmer Rouge regime.
One day he managed to sell his “palace” and moved to a small villa located a few blocks away, named Villa Kanta Bopha after his favourite daughter who had died of leukaemia at a young age.
When his book Souvenir Doux et Amer (Bittersweet Memories) came out, I wrote a long article on it at the request of Suthichai Yoon, editor of The Nation. Somebody sent a copy to Sihanouk in North Korea and he sent me a warm response. That’s how we first met.
There were to be many visits after. He sent me a long letter inviting my wife Shirley and I to have lunch with him and the princess. “Now I can finally treat you as you deserve,” he wrote.
We attended, and he was absolutely charming.
After the signing of the tripartite accord between the three Cambodian factions _ the Khmer Rouge, the republican Son Sann and the royalist Funcinpec party – in Kuala Lumpur in 1982, Sihanouk finally decided to visit Thailand.
But ACM Siddhi Savetsila, the foreign minister at the time, was afraid Sihanouk would be unwelcome in Bangkok after the International Court of Justice had in 1962 decided that Preah Vihear temple belonged to Cambodia. So Sihanouk’s arrival was delayed; he waited in Penang.
I sent at his request a cable to a friend at the US Embassy in Bangkok, Ed Mac Williams.
John Gunter Dean, the US ambassador, went to see ACM Siddhi and convinced him that it would not be good for Thailand and the Asean image if the impression was given that the tripartite agreement was a bad thing.
So Sihanouk was eventually able to arrive in Thailand and was sent discreetly to the Erawan Hotel in Bangkok.
Upon his arrival, he made a point, as he always did, to shake everybody’s hand _ including the two motorcycle riders in his escort, and the hotel porter. The latter knelt down and kissed Sihanouk’s hand. Everyone applauded, and from then on Sihanouk was welcomed by a large crowd of well-wishers wherever he went.
It took many years to win peace in Cambodia; many conferences, many meetings, many false starts. But it finally came in Paris in 1991, and Sihanouk made a triumphant return to his dear country.
Sihanouk became king again. Not that he wanted to, but for Hun Sen and the Cambodian People’s Party, it was a nice way to kick him upstairs, and neutralise his enormous political power.
To limit his influence, he was not allowed to appear on TV apart from giving occasional religious sermons, and his public appearances were also tightly restricted.
But his people never forgot him. I’m sure that an enormous crowd will attend his funeral.
Two years ago I worked on a French television film called The Nine Lives of Norodom Sihanouk. One of the persons interviewed, my old and dear friend Chack Sarik, said: “When Sihanouk was ruling Cambodia we were in peace, we had enough money to live comfortably and were happy. Do you know a better, more glorious epitaph for any politician?”
======================

King Father Communicated Through His Website Until the Very End

Schedule of Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia (Posted on www.NorodomSihanouk.info)

By Kate Bartlett- October 16, 2012
The Cambodia Daily

For almost a decade, King Father Norodom Sihanouk took to the Internet with aplomb, using his official website as a way to update the public on both his political and private life.
The former King scanned and posted his own handwritten letters on the site—often airing his gripes and grievances—as well as letters he received from an abundance of admirers from around the world. He also used his online presence as a way to frequently update the public about his cancer treatment.
Through it all, Norodom Sihanouk took on a diverse range of subjects on his website, ranging from his beloved dogs to his love of music, his impatience with French speakers who mispronounce their vowels in English, problems with his French bank, and his penchant for an afternoon nap.

However, postings this year have been less frequent, even as letters from heads of state and other supporters continued to come in.
In the latest posting, Norodom Sihanouk added a typed agenda poignantly entitled “How Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia Employs his Time,” the content of which reads like a diary of his many doctor’s appointments and medical examinations that took place last month.
“Monday 3rd September 2012, Royal Residence, Beijing, People’s Republic of China: Medical examination by a doctor of the People’s Republic of China. One injection by the chief nurse,” one entry reads.
In the same post, he describes the long succession of medical examinations, injections, visits from practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, and the taking of blood samples, giving an indication of just how much of the King Father’s last year was taken up by his ailing health.
Despite his health concerns, Norodom Sihanouk evidently still kept up with some of his interests, including reading. Earlier this month, he posted scans of several annotated pages of his book “Le Calice Jusqu’a la Lie” or “The Cup to the Dregs” on his website. In the margins of the heavily underlined pages, the former King added comments like “fascists,” “true!” and “patriots.”
The King Father also continued to schedule appointments at his residence in Beijing. His last meeting took place on September 22, when the former king and Queen Mother Monineath met with two Buddhist monks from a pagoda in China’s Guangzhou province.
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Ban expresses deep condolences to Cambodia following death of former monarch

King Norodom Sihanouk – shown here in 1992 when he was a prince – cuts a ribbon to open the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) provincial headquarters in the Cambodian town of Siem Reap. UN Photo/Pernaca Sudhakaran

UN News Centre

15 October 2012 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today offered his deep condolences to the people of Cambodia, the Government and its royal family on the death of the country’s former monarch, King Norodom Sihanouk, according to the UN chief’s spokesperson.
“The Secretary-General acknowledges King Sihanouk’s long dedication to his country and his legacy as a unifying national leader who is revered by Cambodians and respected internationally,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson added in a statement.
According to media reports, King Sihanouk, 89, died after having a heart attack in Beijing, China, where he had been residing for the past eight years. The former monarch came to the throne in 1941 and remained a prominent figure for more than 60 years until his abdication in 2004, when he passed the throne to his son, King Norodom Sihamoni.

King Sihanouk saw Cambodia go from French rule to independence in 1953, experienced house arrest during the Khmer Rouge regime during which nearly two million people died between 1975 and 1979, and faced 13 years of exile during the country’s civil war that followed the regime’s toppling. He later returned to his country amidst its efforts with reconciliation and the restoration of political stability.
“The Secretary-General also hopes that the legacy of the former King will allow Cambodia to advance the national healing process, including through continued commitment to justice,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said.
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Hu Sends Condolences over Sihanouk’s Death

Hu Jintao (L) and Sihanouk (R)

2012-10-15 Xinhua

Chinese President Hu Jintao expressed his condolences Monday over the death of former Cambodian king Norodom Sihanouk.
In his message to reigning king Norodom Sihamoni and former queen Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, Hu also sent sincere condolences to the government and people of Cambodia.
Hu said the death of Sihanouk, who led the Cambodians to independence, national reconciliation and peaceful development, was a huge loss to the Cambodian people.

Sihanouk was a great friend of the Chinese people and had contributed much to the strengthening of the friendship between the peoples of the two countries, Hu said.
Hu also expressed his firm belief that, with the joint efforts of the two countries, the China-Cambodia relationship would continue its strong growth momentum, bringing benefits to both peoples.
On the same day, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao and Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Jia Qinglin also sent condolence messages to senior Cambodian leaders over the former king’s death.
Born on Oct. 31, 1922, Norodom Sihanouk reigned from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 till his voluntary abdication on Oct. 7, 2004 in favor of his son, the current king Sihamoni. He died of illness at the age of 90 Monday morning.
===============

Bidding Lea Heuy To Cambodia’s Controversial King

Sihanouk in North Korea

By Traci Tong ⋅ October 15, 2012
PRI’s The World (USA)

The former King of Cambodia Norodom Sihanouk died in China Monday after suffering a heart attack. The World’s Mary Kay Magistad reported on Sihanouk for seven years during his reign. She tells Anchor Marco Werman that the king was both revered and reviled.Sihanouk helped lead Cambodia to Independence from France and he formed friendships with Mao Zedong and North Korean leader Kim Il Sung and had alliances with the Khmer Rouge which eventually led to disastrous consequences for his family.
Magistad said Sihanouk was “charming and highly entertaining” and he often held four hour news conferences where he would read poetry. She said the former king saw himself as a Shakespearean character — someone who was larger than life at a time when Southeast Asian Politics really mattered.”“In his spare time, when he should have been governing the country in the 1960s, he would make films with a North Korean film crew because Kim Il Sung was one of his good friends, and he would write love songs, and he would play the saxophone and then he would execute political opponents and then he would make films of the executions and show them in theaters around the country so other people think about opposing him.”

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Death of His Majesty King Father Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia

Press Statement
Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC

October 15, 2012

The United States expresses its sympathy on the passing of His Majesty King Father Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia. We extend our condolences to His Majesty King Sihamoni, Her Majesty Queen Mother Norodom Monineath, the entire Royal Family, and those in Cambodia who are mourning this loss.
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The Bloodied Legacy of Cambodia’s Chameleon King

Then-princess Monique, then-prince Sihanouk and Ieng Sary in 1973.

October 15, 2012
By MARK MCDONALD
International Herald Tribune (Paris, France)

“By allying himself with the Khmer Rouge and urging his countrymen to join,Sihanouk condemned his people to damnation”
HONG KONG — He was a libertine and a francophile, a filmmaker and a painter, a serial husband and father and philanderer, a cherubic but ruthless god-king who liked to putter about in the garden. He played the sax in his own jazz band. He loved to eat. He once served Champagne to a visiting U.S. secretary of state. At 10 a.m.
Most of all, of course, King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia was the consummate political flip-flopper, a shape-shifting monarch and realpolitik chameleon who helped to lead the global nonaligned movement but also, at one time or another, tethered his nation to the world’s major powers to preserve its independence.
The diplomatic chronology of King Sihanouk, who died Monday in Beijing at age 89, is mind-boggling in its complexity and contradictions. But his legacy might well be forever sealed and tarnished by his alliance with the hyper-communist Khmer Rouge movement that ravaged Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.

The regime, which came to power through his direct participation, would kill an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians through murder, torture, overwork and starvation — a rampage of such horror and psychosis that it targeted anyone with an education, anyone who spoke a foreign language, anyone who wore eyeglasses or played the piano.
“By allying himself with the Khmer Rouge and urging his countrymen to join, Sihanouk condemned his people to damnation,” said the historian Joel Brinkley in his book, “Cambodia’s Curse: The Modern History of a Troubled Land.”
Elizabeth Becker and Seth Mydans, in their obituary of King Sihanouk in The Times, write, “In the end, King Sihanouk helped bring Pol Pot to power.”
King Sihanouk had initially persecuted Pol Pot, his Khmer Rouge compatriots and other leftists in the early and mid-1960s — as the Vietnam War was heating up and Southeast Asian communists were mounting insurgencies. The Khmer Rouge politburo fled the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, and many sought refuge in the country’s northwestern forests and in France.
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King Father on Preah Vihear issue

Norodom Sihanouk leads pilgrims at the ancient Khmer Temple of Preah Vihear in 1962. The procession took place following a ceremony marking Cambodia’s formal possession of the temple, after the bordering country of Thailand lost a court fight to retain possession. (AP)

Thursday, 10 July 2008
Unofficial Translation from French
Written by The Phnom Penh Post

Communique from Norodom SihanoukPhnom Penh, 8 July 2008
I. Certain journalists are writing that the main entrance to the Preah Vihear temple faces Thailand and not Cambodia.II. The Thais have said, say and have written and write that one of the “proofs” of Thai ownership of Preah Vihear is constituted by the fact that access to the temple is infinitely more easy from the Thai side rather than from the Cambodian side.III. These journalists and these Thais seem to ignore the following historic facts, ones which amply prove that the mountain and the temple of Preah Vihear are 100% Cambodian and belong 100% to Cambodia.

a/. The construction (10th and 11th centuries) of Preah Vihear by two successive Khmer Kings and is a purely Khmer work.

b/. The mountain and the temple of Preah Vihear could be found, during the 10th and 11th centuries, “very much in the interior” of Kampuchea, in the Khmer Empire, of which the borders extended for hundreds of kilometers, to the north, the east and west, much further than the current Cambodian borders with Thailand and Laos.

As a consequence, the mountain and the Preah Vihear temple could be found not on the Cambodia-Siam (Thai) border but “deep in the interior” of the Kingdom (of the Khmer Empire) and the “main entrance” of Preah Vihear “looked” not towards Siam (Thailand) but to Kampuchea.

c/. The International Court in the Hague, which in 1962, rendered justice to Cambodia, did not ignore all this, and let me, once again, offer them a respectful and admiring homage.

d/. Thanks to Khmer Sovereignty and the Khmer empire (Angkorian in particular) , present day Thailand is very rich in Angkorian style Khmer temples and monuments.

[It is] absolutely wrong and gives proof to the meanness, which, in Thailand, causes to Cambodia and its people undeserved and anachronistic troubles concerning the temple of Preah Vihear, instead of devoting ourselves to the harmonious and fruitful development of our friendship and our (authentic) brotherhood (Thai-Cambodian).

(signed) Norodom Sihanouk

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King Father Norodom Sihanouk Dies at 89

By Michelle Vachon – October 15, 2012
The Cambodia Daily

Retired King Norodom Sihanouk, whose name for half a century was synonymous with Cambodia on the world stage, died in the early hours of Monday morning in Beijing.
The former monarch, who was about to celebrate his 90th birthday on October 31, died peacefully in a Beijing hospital at 1:25 a.m. Cambodia time, an official in Norodom Sihanouk’s inner circle confirmed from Beijing two hours after the death.
“The Royal Government of Cambodia will bring the King-Father’s body back to Cambodia for a traditional royal funeral,” the Council of Ministers said in a statement later in the morning.
Prince Sisowath Thomico, chief of cabinet for the late King Father, said that Norodom Sihanouk had suffered a heart attack.

“His heart was very weak, so we were expecting this to happen, but we were just surprised that it happened so fast,” Prince Thomico said.
He said Royal Palace officials had told him King Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng and Say Chhum, head of the ruling CPP’s standing committee, flew to Beijing on a special flight at around 9:30 a.m. this morning.
“His Majesty the King and Prime Minister Hun Sen went to Beijing this morning, and maybe they will come back with the body,” Prince Thomico said, adding that arrangements for Norodom Sihanouk’s body to be returned to Cambodia had not yet been made.
After stepping down from the throne in 2004 to pave the way for his successor and son, King Norodom Sihamoni, the retired King was dubbed “King Father” by his people, whom he had always called “my grandchildren” in Khmer and “mes enfants” in French.
Though Norodom Sihanouk’s health had been a concern for many years – he was treated for prostate cancer in the mid-1990s and had remained under medical supervision ever since—he was still busy giving audiences up until last month.
After his abdication in 2004, Norodom Sihanouk spent most of his time in Beijing under the medical care of a team of Chinese doctors who also accompanied him during his visits to Cambodia. But his health did not prevent him from pursuing an active life and he continued to write open letters on his website. Although he spent most of his time in Beijing for health reasons, the King Father was always fully aware of events and the situation in the country.
After re-ascending to the throne following the 1993 U.N.-sponsored elections, Norodom Sihanouk was—as he often pointed out—a constitutional monarch who reigned but did not rule. Still, through his moral authority—and often acerbic comments on Cambodia’s political figures and issues—he continued to play a major role in Cambodian public life until his retirement and even afterwards.
In spite of his repeated appeals to remove his portrait from public buildings and only display his son’s, Norodom Sihanouk’s portrait and the portrait of his wife, Queen Mother Monineath, still appear next to King Sihamoni’s picture in most government and public buildings throughout the country.
Born on October 31, 1922, the retired King was crowned in May 1941 while the country was still administered by France. In a bold gesture—the first of many in his long, storied career—Norodom Sihanouk declared Cambodia’s independence in 1945 following the arrest of all Frenchmen in the country by the Japanese military then controlling Cambodia.
After Japan’s defeat in World War II, Norodom Sihanouk had to relinquish political control when the French returned. But far from giving up, he obtained the country’s independence peacefully from France in 1953 after using a series of tactics that included trips to Paris, Canada, the U.S. and Japan to gain international political and media support for his call for Cambodia’s freedom from colonial rule, a movement he dubbed the “Royal Crusade.”
In 1955, Norodom Sihanouk abdicated the King’s throne in order to become directly involved in the politics of the country. As Prince Sihanouk, he founded the political party Sangkum Reastr Niyum and, by 1960, he ruled the country as chief of state and head of the country’s sole political party.
Though he attempted to walk a tightrope between the competing Cold War powers of East and West, Cambodia was dragged into the second Indochina conflict in the late 1960s as the war in neighboring Vietnam spread across his country’s borders.
=====================
Ousted by the pro-U.S. military government of General Lon Nol in March 1970, Norodom Sihanouk took refuge in Beijing where he received Chinese government support for his efforts to defeat Lon Nol and return to power.
The King’s maquis, however, was subverted by the nascent Khmer Rouge movement, which took power in 1975.
During the Khmer Rouge regime, which was also backed by China, Norodom Sihanouk, Queen Mother Monineath and then-Prince Sihamoni remained under house arrest at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. Many other members of the royal family were executed and disappeared during those years.
After the Khmer Rouge defeat in 1979, Norodom Sihanouk returned to China and worked at building a broad coalition of resistance against the Vietnamese presence in Cambodia. He later headed the coalition of Cambodian political factions that negotiated and signed the Paris Peace Agreement in October 1991.
Following the U.N.-backed 1993 national elections and the adoption of the Constitution, Norodom Sihanouk became the country’s King for the second time in his life and continued to exert considerable influence on the social and political landscape.
He was never one to shy from controversial issues, such as political violence, corruption or border issue with Vietnam and Thailand, and at times he directly intervened, such as in the aftermaths of the 1997 factional fighting that saw the ousting of his son and then-First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh by then-Second Prime Minister Hun Sen. He also convened meetings in the Royal Palace of senior party leaders in an attempt to break the political deadlock that paralyzed the government for one year following the 2003 national elections.
(Additional reporting by Simon Lewis)
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Cambodia’s former King Norodom Sihanouk dies at 89

Associated Press/Andy Eames, File – In this Oct. 20, 2004 file photo, Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihanouk and Queen Monineath wave at Phnom Penh airport, in Cambodia. Sihanouk, the former Cambodian king …more who was never far from the center of his country’s politics through a half-century of war, genocide and upheaval, died of natural causes early Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, in Beijing. He was 89. (AP Photo/Andy Eames, File)
A Cambodian family members ride on a motorbike as they head back from their home village, passing by portraits of former King Norodom Sihanouk, left, and his wife Queen Monineath, Monday, Oct.15, 2012, at the outskirt of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Sihanouk, the revered former king who was a towering figure in Cambodian politics through a half-century of war, genocide and upheaval, died Monday. He was 89. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith
FILE – In this Sept. 2, 2006 file photo, Cambodia’s retired King Norodom Sihanouk greets well-wishers before departing for China from Phnom Penh International Airport, in Cambodia. Sihanouk, the former Cambodian king who was never far from the center of his country’s politics through a half-century of war, genocide and upheaval, has died. He was 89. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith, File)
A Cambodian woman prays in tears in front of the main gate of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to mourn the death of former King Norodom Sihanouk Monday, Oct. 15, 2012. Sihanouk, the revered former king who was a towering figure in Cambodian politics through a half-century of war, genocide and upheaval, died Monday. He was 89. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Two girls pray outside the gate of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, after the death of former King Norodom Sihanouk, Monday, Oct. 15, 2012. Sihanouk died of a heart attack Monday in Beijing, where he had been receiving medical treatment since January for a variety of ailments. He was 89. (AP Photo)
Monks from Takeo province, southwestern Cambodia, pray outside the gate of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh after the death of former King Norodom Sihanouk, Monday, Oct. 15, 2012. Sihanouk died of a heart attack Monday in Beijing, where he had been receiving medical treatment since January for a variety of ailments. He was 89. (AP Photo)
Journalists film a convoy of cars following Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, wife of former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk, arrive at a hospital where the king received treatment, in Beijing Monday, Oct. 15, 2012. Sihanouk, the revered former king who was a towering figure in Cambodian politics through a half-century of war, genocide and upheaval, died Monday in Beijing. He was 89. He had been getting medical treatment in China since January and had suffered a variety of illnesses, including colon cancer, diabetes and hypertension. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Lary, 27, cries as he joins others mourning the death of the late former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh October 15, 2012. Norodom Sihanouk, once an absolute ruler who freed Cambodia from colonialism before becoming a tragic pawn through decades of turmoil, died on Monday in a Beijing hospital. He was 89. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
People wearing white pray as they mourn the late former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh October 15, 2012. Norodom Sihanouk, once an absolute ruler who freed Cambodia from colonialism before becoming a tragic pawn through decades of turmoil, died on Monday in a Beijing hospital. He was 89. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
People wearing white pray as they mourn the late former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh October 15, 2012. Norodom Sihanouk, once an absolute ruler who freed Cambodia from colonialism before becoming a tragic pawn through decades of turmoil, died on Monday in a Beijing hospital. He was 89. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
A woman cries as people gather to mourn the late former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh October 15, 2012. Norodom Sihanouk, once an absolute ruler who freed Cambodia from colonialism before becoming a tragic pawn through decades of turmoil, died on Monday in a Beijing hospital. He was 89. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

By SOPHENG CHEANG
Associated Press – 10/15/2012

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — He was many things to the Cambodia he helped navigate through half a century of war and genocide — revered independence hero, ruthless monarch and prime minister, communist collaborator, eccentric playboy, avid filmmaker.
Most of all, perhaps, Cambodia’s former King Norodom Sihanouk was a cunning political survivor who reinvented himself repeatedly throughout his often flamboyant life.
On Monday, aged 89, Sihanouk died of a heart attack in Beijing, where he had been receiving medical treatment since January for a variety of ailments.
First crowned king by the French in 1941 at the age of 18, Sihanouk saw his Southeast Asian nation transformed from colony to kingdom, from U.S.-backed regime to U.S. bombing zone, from Khmer Rouge killing field to what it remains today — a fragile experiment in democracy.

 
He ruled as a feudal-style absolute monarch, but called himself a democrat. He was a man who sang love songs at elaborate state dinners, brought his French poodle to peace talks, and charmed foreign dignitaries such as Jacqueline Kennedy.
 
He also painted, fielded a palace soccer team, composed music and led his own jazz band. His appetite extended to fast cars, food and women. He married at least five times — some say six — and fathered 14 children.
When the murderous Khmer Rouge seized power in the 1970s, he was reviled as their collaborator. Yet he himself ended up as their prisoner and lost five of his children to the regime. Later, in the 1990s — after a U.N.-brokered deal to end Cambodia’s long civil war — he recast himself as a peacemaker and constitutional monarch.
In the twilight of his life, Sihanouk suffered colon cancer, diabetes and hypertension. Prince Sisowath Thomico, a royal family member who also was Sihanouk’s assistant and nephew, said the former king passed away before dawn Monday.
“His death was a great loss to Cambodia,” Thomico said, adding that Sihanouk had dedicated his life “for the sake of his entire nation, country and for the Cambodian people.”
In 2004, Sihanouk abdicated the throne, citing his poor health. The move paved the way for his son Norodom Sihamoni to take his place.
On Monday, Sihamoni flew to China with Prime Minister Hun Sen to retrieve Sihanouk’s body. State flags flew at half-staff, and Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said a week of official mourning would be held once the former king’s body is repatriated on Wednesday. A cremation ceremony will be held in three months, according to Buddhist tradition.
While officials said they expect as many as 100,000 to line the route from the airport to the Royal Palace for the return of Sihanouk’s body, the immediate reaction in the capital seemed muted, partly because it was a holiday, which took many people out of town.
One of those mourning was 67-year-old Yos Sekchantha, who said she offered prayers that his soul would rest in peace.
“I don’t know much about politics, but the king father was really a good leader and cared about his county and people,” she said as tears welled in her eyes.
Many Cambodians, though, are too young to have emotional bonds to a man who in the past two decades has been overshadowed by Hun Sen, the country’s current political strongman.
In January, Sihanouk requested he be cremated in the Cambodian and Buddhist tradition. He asked that his ashes be put in an urn, preferably made of gold, and placed in a stupa at the Royal Palace.
Born Oct. 31, 1922, Sihanouk enjoyed a pampered childhood in French colonial Indochina. In 1941, the French crowned him king instead of other relatives closer in line to the throne because they thought the pudgy, giggling prince would be easy to control.
They were the first of many to underestimate him, and by 1953 the French were out.
In 1955, Sihanouk stepped down from the throne, organized a mass political party and went on to hold various positions as head of government and state.
Through those years, he steered Cambodia toward uneasy neutrality at the height of the Cold War and was a founder of the Non-Aligned Movement.
In 1965, he broke off relations with Washington as U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War shifted into high gear. But by 1969, worried about increasing Vietnamese communist use of Cambodian soil, he made new overtures to America and turned away from China.
Sihanouk’s top priority was to keep Cambodia out of the war, but he could not. U.S. aircraft bombed Vietnamese communist sanctuaries in Cambodia with increasing regularity, over his public protests. Privately, U.S. officials believed, he had given tacit permission for the attacks on Vietnamese communist sanctuaries near Cambodia’s eastern border.
Internally, Cambodia was a one-man show. Sihanouk’s sharpest critics accused him of running a medieval state as an ancient Khmer ruler reincarnated in Western dress.
“I am Sihanouk,” he once said, “and all Cambodians are my children.”
Indeed, many adored Sihanouk as a near-deity.
In 1970, though, Sihanouk was overthrown in a U.S.-backed coup that came while he was abroad on a trip that included a stay at a French weight-loss clinic. He spent years of lonely, if lavish, exile in Beijing.
Seeking to regain the throne, he joined the communist Khmer Rouge-dominated rebels after his overthrow. Only a few years earlier, his government had been suppressing them in the city and countryside.
They had numbered only a few hundred until the coup, but his presence gave them a legitimacy they had never before enjoyed.
The alliance left Sihanouk open to subsequent criticism that he opened the way for the Khmer Rouge holocaust. But his relations with the communist group were always strained.
“The Khmer Rouge do not like me at all, and I know that. Ooh, la, la … It is clear to me,” he said in a 1973 interview. “When they no longer need me, they will spit me out like a cherry pit.”
When the Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975, Sihanouk returned home. But he was detained and the former rebels ordered his execution. Only the personal intervention of Chinese leader Zhou Enlai saved him.
With Sihanouk under house arrest in the Royal Palace, the Khmer Rouge ran an ultra-radical Maoist regime from 1975 to 1979, emptying the cities to create a vast network of forced labor camps. An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians were executed or died of disease and hunger under their rule.
Vietnam invaded in 1978 and toppled the Khmer Rouge. Freed as the Vietnamese advanced on Phnom Penh, Sihanouk found exile in Beijing and North Korea.
From there, he nominally headed an unlikely coalition of three guerrilla groups — including his former Khmer Rouge captors — fighting the Vietnamese-installed puppet government. The war lasted a decade.
Sihanouk remained a unifying figure, though, going on to lead the U.N.-supported interim structure that ran Cambodia until 1993 elections.
The same year, Sihanouk re-ascended the throne in a traditional Khmer coronation. Restored to his palace and travelling the countryside with personal bodyguards on loan from North Korea, he assumed a new role as beloved father of the country — even though many adoring, older Cambodians expressed hope for a return of his previous direct rule.
But the bright promise of the elections soon faded.
Four years after the polls, Hun Sen launched a violent coup, and he remains in power to this day.
In the last years of his life, Sihanouk’s profile and influence receded. While older people in the countryside still held him in reverence, the young generation regarded him as a figure of the past and one partly responsible for Cambodia’s tragedy.
Rarely at a loss for words, he became for a time a prolific blogger, posting his musings on current affairs and past controversies. Most of his writing was literally in his own hand — his site featured images of letters, usually in French in a cramped cursive script, along with handwritten marginalia to news clippings that caught his interest.
His production tailed off, however, as he retreated further from the public eye, spending more and more time under doctors’ care in Beijing.
The hard-living Sihanouk had suffered ill health since the early 1990s. He endured cancer, a brain lesion and arterial, heart, lung, liver and eye ailments.
In late 2011, on his return from another extended stay in China, Sihanouk dramatically declared that he never intended to leave his homeland again. But true to his mercurial reputation, he flew off to Beijing just a few months later for medical care.
___
Associated Press writers Kay Johnson, Grant Peck, Denis Gray and Todd Pitman in Bangkok contributed to this report.
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Norodom Sihanouk and China: a lifelong alliance

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
AFP

BEIJING — Through decades of turmoil at home, former Cambodian monarch Norodom Sihanouk enjoyed vital political and medical succor from China, a staunch ally that provided the mercurial leader with a second home.
For more than 40 years, Sihanouk had at his disposal a stately and luxurious residence in the heart of Beijing, a grey-walled complex just a short distance from Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
The historic residence — the French embassy in the early 1900s, it was put at his disposal in 1970 by China’s late Premier Zhou Enlai — is a stone’s-throw from the hospital where he died on Monday.
The relationship between Sihanouk and his Chinese hosts was often rocky as China simultaneously supported the radical Khmer Rouge, Sihanouk’s on-again, off-again allies.
But the late Cambodian so-called “father-king” praised the Beijing doctors who sustained him physically and the Chinese Communist state that propped him up politically through dark times.

“Long live the fraternal and indestructible friendship uniting the kingdom of Cambodia and the glorious People’s Republic of China!” he wrote in 2009 on his website which he maintained until just recently.
The Cambodia monarch had received regular medical treatment in Beijing since being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1994.
During his extended stays in the city, he often offered biting commentary on Cambodia’s fractious politics, decrying nepotism, corruption, the abuse of the “little people” and the pillaging of natural resources.
He maintained a long friendship with China’s communist leaders Mao Zedong and Zhou, whom he met at the Bandung Conference of non-aligned nations in Indonesia in 1955.
 
“I’ve always considered China as my second homeland … only China has supported us, the Khmer resistance, the Soviet Union does not want us,” he said in 1971.
China repaid the praise on Monday in offering condolences over his death.
After abandoning a 40-room home in Pyongyang offered by the North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, Sihanouk and his Queen Monique, who faithfully stayed by his side to his death, took up residence in the Beijing building in 1970 after he was deposed in a military coup.
“It’s a very comfortable residence in modern Chinese style, beautifully decorated,” Julio Jeldres, Sihanouk’s official biographer and frequent visitor to his Beijing home, told AFP in 2009.
Sihanouk opened the doors of his sanctuary mostly to privileged guests — members of his royal family, high-ranking diplomats or Chinese dignitaries.
In comments to AFP, Sihanouk’s long-time personal assistant Prince Sisowath Thomico recalled the former king’s love of food.
He had many chefs at his disposal in Beijing who specialized in French cuisine, but the gourmet royal was himself an accomplished cook who enjoyed spending time in the kitchen.
“He used to teach his cooks how to make French dishes,” the assistant said. “The royal residence was known among diplomats in the early 1970s to be the best place for French cuisine in Beijing.”
Many observers considered the alliance between a royal monarch and China’s communist rulers to be a union of strange bedfellows, but Mao early on put such notions to rest.
“Some say that communists do not like princes,” Mao had said, “but we Chinese communists like and we esteem a prince like Norodom Sihanouk who is so close to his people, who are loyal and devoted to him.”
China’s Xi Offers Condolences for ‘friend’ Sihanouk
China’s Vice President Xi Jinping expressed sadness at the death of former Cambodian king Norodom Sihanouk in Beijing Monday, paying tribute to an “old friend of the Chinese people,” the foreign ministry said.
“I was shocked to learn that His Majesty King Sihanouk died of an illness in Beijing early this morning,” Xi told Sihanouk’s wife Queen Monique in Beijing, according to a statement posted on the ministry’s website.
“We are deeply shocked and grief-stricken,” Xi said, adding that he expressed “deep condolences and sincere sympathy,” to the Cambodian people on behalf of China’s government and people, the statement said.
Xi stood in silence before a portrait of the deceased monarch, and lauded Sihanouk as an “old friend of the Chinese people” who made an “indelible contribution to the development of friendly relations between China and Cambodia.”
Other high-ranking Chinese officials including State Councillor Dai Bingguo — China’s top official on foreign relations — and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi also offered condolences, calling Sihanouk “a great friend of China,” the ministry said.
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OBITUARY: Sihanouk, Cambodian king during decades of tumult dies

October 15, 2012
Deutsche Presse Agentur
Photos : EPA

Phnom Penh – Former king Norodom Sihanouk, who dominated Cambodia’s political scene for nearly six decades and was regarded asthe father of modern Cambodia, died Monday at the age of 89.
Sihanouk was inextricably linked to his country’s turbulent and tragic recent history. He played numerous roles in Cambodian affairs as king, peacemaker, resistance leader and prisoner of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime.
The constitutional monarch had limited political power, but he was revered by many Cambodians. Throughout his life, he worked to improve the lives of his people, with whom he claimed to have a special relationship that transcended politics.
He was quoted by The New York Times as saying he followed one course in politics: “the defence of the independence, the territorial integrity and the dignity of my country and my people.”

Born in Phnom Penh in 1922, Sihanouk ascended to the throne in 1941 at 19. The French colonial administration that installed Sihanouk did so thinking he would be pliant and naive, but its strategy failed as he led a movement to gain independence from France, which was granted to Cambodia in 1953.
Sihanouk, unwilling to be constrained by constitutional statutes that prevented the monarch from playing a political role, abdicatedin 1955 in favor of his father, Suramarit, and threw himself into the political arena.
The semi-divine status accorded to the Cambodian monarchy ensured Sihanouk an easy victory in 1955 elections, and for the next 15 years, he dominated politics.
Sihanouk spearheaded the Sangkum Reastr Niyum, or People’s Socialist Community, a political organisation that controlled the government through 1970, a time that would be later viewed as modern Cambodia’s golden era.
Throughout the Sangkum period, the then-prince held and executed absolute power. While he commonly ordered crackdowns on opposition press and political dissenters, Sihanouk also undertook massive public works projects and made advances in education.
Yugoslavia leader Josip Broz Tito, who along with Sihanouk was a founder of the Non-Aligned Movement, said after a trip to Cambodia during the Sangkum period: “I found that Cambodia was a flourishing country with a high standard of living and an advanced industrial potential. This is a country … which really wants to (keep) itself from being involved in disaster. Unfortunately, this does not dependon them.”
Tito’s appraisal proved to be prescient. Despite Sihanouk’s attempts to assert Cambodia’s neutrality, the country was soon engulfed in the US war in neighboring Vietnam.
Sihanouk was overthrown by his defence minister, Lon Nol, in a US-backed coup in early 1970 while abroad and soon after began the first of many stints as the head of a resistance movement in exile.
Among the groups in the anti-Lon Nol resistance were communistin surgents that Sihanouk dubbed “les Khmer Rouge,” or red Cambodians, a name that would forever haunt Cambodia.
Sihanouk eventually returned to Phnom Penh in late 1975 after the Khmer Rouge toppled the Lon Nol regime.
No longer of political value to the Khmer Rouge, Sihanouk was placed under house arrest at the Royal Palace while the movement embarked on one of the most radical, bloody social experiments inhistory.
“I understand very well that when I am no longer useful to them,they’ll spit me out like a cherry pit,” Sihanouk said of the Khmer Rouge in a 1973 interview.
An estimated 1.7 million to 2.2 million Cambodians, including five of Sihanouk’s 14 grandchildren, died from forced labor, starvation, disease and summary executions from 1975 to 1979 in the Khmer Rouge’s failed attempt to create an agrarian utopia.
After the Khmer Rouge’s ouster in a 1979 Vietnamese invasion and occupation, Sihanouk became the head of yet another resistance movement, which sought Vietnam’s withdrawal from the country.
Moving between his residences in North Korea and Beijing, Sihanouk was eventually able to bring together Cambodian leaders of the resistance and the Vietnamese-installed regime for peace talks, which resulted in Vietnam’s withdrawal in 1989.
Sihanouk was a central figure in brokering the historic 1991 Paris Peace Accords, which led to a massive UN peacekeeping effort and UN-run elections in 1993. The elections resulted in an uneasy coalition government led by Hun Sen, a leader of the Vietnamese-installed regime, and Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the king’sson.
Sihanouk once again ascended to the throne after the 1993 polls as constitutional monarch and sought until his death to ensure Cambodia’s political stability without being seen as actively participating in politics.
By the late 1990s, the king’s heath had deteriorated, and he spent much of his time in Beijing undergoing medical treatment for a variety of ailments, including cataracts and arteriosclerosis.
He abdicated in 2004 because of poor health, allowing his son Norodom Sihamoni to take the throne. He died in Beijing.
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Obituary: Norodom Sihanouk, former king of Cambodia Norodom Sihanouk was vital force for unity in Cambodia

14 October 2012
BBC News

Unpredictable, ebullient, mercurial, autocratic, self-indulgent – these are just some of the descriptions applied over the years to former King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia.
Married six times and the father of at least 14 children, a saxophone player, a song writer, a film maker, a bon vivant who loved French cooking and wines, Sihanouk was never afraid of appearing eccentric.
“Cambodians are all naughty boys, and that includes me,” he once said.
Yet beneath all the joking and indulgence was a master politician and leader who frequently changed allegiances but always tried to preserve the unity of his country and prevent it being gobbled up by the big powers.

Sihanouk was born in 1922, the eldest son of King Norodom Suramarit and Queen Kossamak.
Educated at French schools in Saigon and in Paris, the Nazi controlled Vichy government in France crowned Sihanouk king of Cambodia in 1941, bypassing his father in the hope that the 18 year old could easily be manipulated.
However, after the war Sihanouk embarked on an international campaign aimed at ensuring independence for Cambodia.
Despite being rebuffed by the US, whose policies towards Indo China Sihanouk was always scathing about, Cambodia won its freedom in 1953.
It was achieved without bloodshed after nearly a century of French rule. Two years later Sihanouk abdicated in favour of his father and became both prime minister and foreign minister of his country.

Khmer Rouge deal

For the next 10 years, he successfully steered Cambodia on a neutral course. However, as the war in Vietnam escalated, Sihanouk became more critical of America, accusing Washington-supported South Vietnamese troops of repeated incursions into Cambodian territory.
Meanwhile, Washington accused Sihanouk of allowing North Vietnamese troops passage through his country.
In March 1970, while Sihanouk was visiting the Soviet Union, General Lon Nol, then Cambodian Prime Minister, seized control of the government with American help.
Sihanouk went into exile in Beijing and threw his support behind the Khmer Rouge guerrillas who were emerging as a considerable fighting force.
When the Khmer Rouge moved into Phnom Penh in 1975, Sihanouk returned as head of state. He was criticised for acting as the chief apologist for the murderous Khmer Rouge regime and its leader Pol Pot.
Later Sihanouk, who spent much of the Pol Pot era a virtual prisoner in the royal palace, said he was unaware of the Khmer Rouge’s worst excesses which included the killing of about one million Cambodians.
Among those who died were five of Sihanouk’s own children, and at least 15 grandchildren. In early 1979, Vietnam invaded Cambodia and, once again, Sihanouk fled into exile in China.
For the next decade, Sihanouk worked from his bases in China and North Korea to expel the Vietnamese from Cambodia. He refused to break with the Khmer Rouge who still held much military power.
‘Tragic hero’
In 1990, the Vietnamese withdrew. Sihanouk was at the centre of complex negotiations involving royalists, the Khmer Rouge and Hun Sen, the Vietnamese-backed prime minister, to form a new government.

Though he cajoled and joked his way through these talks – Sihanouk occasionally brought his poodle to the negotiations – his performance was judged by many to be a triumph of diplomacy.

In 1991, Sihanouk was appointed president, then two years later, amid the numerous twists and turns of Cambodian politics, he was, for the second time, crowned King, a position he retained until his abdication in October 2004 due to ill health.
Sihanouk did an about face on the Khmer Rouge, roundly condemning them as murderers, calling for their leaders to face trial and seeking to exclude them from any role in government.
In his later years, often absent from his country to undergo medical treatment for cancer and a series of mild strokes, Sihanouk was seen less and less by his people.
But to the end he maintained their loyalty and was a vital force for unity in a turbulent part of the world.
He once said it would take a Shakespeare to do literary justice to his reign. “But the tragic hero is not Sihanouk but the people of Cambodia,” he said.
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Norodom Sihanouk’s official biographer pays tribute

Norodom Sihanouk was a passionate film-maker, actor, musician.

15 October 2012
ABC Radio Australia

Norodom Sihanouk’s official biographer pays tribute (Credit: ABC)
The strong impressions he made on the many diplomats and reporters who met him, have become the stuff of folklore in Cambodia.

Julio Jeldres, was a former private secretary to King Sihanouk and was his official biographer.
Presenter: Liam Cochrane
Speaker: Julio Jeldres, former King Sihanouk official biographer, currently an adjunct research fellow at Monash University
JELDRES: He was very weak, because he had developed some heart disease and his heart was quite weak.
I was there until the 30th. September, and so yes, he was quite weak and the doctor was thinking of taking him to hospital again, but he didn’t really want to go to hospital. He wanted to stay at his residence.
COCHRANE: And were you able to speak with him?
JELDRES: Yes, we exchanged some words, but recently he didn’t say much. He just sat there, always a smiling, always smiling, but he didn’t say much, yes.
COCHRANE: We’ll talk a lot more about his life in a moment. But just briefly, can you tell us anything more about his death?

JELDRES: Well, all I know is that he had some chest pains and was taken to hospital in Beijing and then he had a heart attack there and the doctor tried to help him by doing an operation, but it didn’t work out.
COCHRANE: How do you think his death will be received by the people of Cambodia?
JELDRES: I think that the people are going to be very sad, because it’s the end of an era. He is considered the father of Cambodia independence. He was the only politician and the only member of the Royal Family in Cambodia’s history that managed to establish such a close relationship to the rural population of Cambodia, which is about 90 per cent of the population of the country.
COCHRANE: You obviously had a close relationship with him working as his private secretary and also as his official biographer. How are you feeling this morning?
JELDRES: I feel very sad and quite shocked, yes. Yes, I didn’t expect him to pass away so sudden. I was still hoping that Chinese medicine was going to keep him alive, at least until his birthday that is coming in two weeks time.
COCHRANE: He was a fascinating leader, described as being very charming, sometimes controversial, mercurial is the word very often used by the Western press. His life as we’ve just heard from Zoe Daniel’s package there was so entwined with the history of Cambodia and of South East Asia more generally. How do you think Norodom Sihanouk will be remembered as a political leader?
JELDRES: I think first of all, he was misunderstood, because he was trying to do, his ambition in life was to keep his country free, independent and with his territorial integrity protected, because that was the main concern that he had, that if he didn’t protect the territorial integrity of Cambodia, it was going to be lost to the neighbours, as it had happened in the past already. And so that was his main ambition in life, it was to protect Cambodia and to give a reasonable standard of living to the people.
COCHRANE: What do you think this means for the future of the monarchy in Cambodia?
JELDRES: That I am not sure. I am not sure. There is a King there that is doing all the right things. At the moment, he’s following on the steps of his father. He’s visiting the people constantly, trying to establish the same rapport that King Sihanouk had with the people. So I am hopeful that the monarchy will continue in Cambodia.
COCHRANE: I know we’ve just learnt of the former King’s death and it is very early days. But, are you aware of the what the protocol will be from here as far as his funeral and any ceremonies in Cambodia?
JELDRES: Well, my understanding is that His Majesty the King, and the Prime Minister, Hun Sen, are flying to Beijing this morning from Cambodia and I am not sure whether they are going to bring the body back to Cambodia for Buddhist ceremonies, but Buddhist ceremonies for a King sometimes take up to three months for the final burial, so I haven’t heard any more details because it’s too early.
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A look back at the life and times of Norodom Sihanouk

The former King of Cambodia, Norodom Sihanouk, has died at the age of 89.

15 October 2012
ABC Radio Australia

A look back at the life and times of Norodom Sihanouk (Credit: ABC)
The eccentric monarch was known as the God-King of the Nation, and islisted in the Guinness Book of Records as the political leader to have held the most positions.

He was ousted in a coup, became a leader-in-exile, and served as both president and prime minister before being reinstalled as King in 1993. He then voluntarily abdicated in 2004 in favour of his son.

ABC’s South East Asia Correspondent Zoe Daniel looks back at the life and times of one of the region’s most prominent figures.
Correspondent: Zoe Daniel
DANIEL: Norodom Sihanouk was a popular politician known for flamboyance. Born in 1922, he ascended to the throne in 1941, and was seen first as a puppet of the French and a playboy. But in the 1950s, he conducted an international campaign for Cambodian independence and then abdicated and took control as Prime Minister.
He was to be the only key political player until the emergence of the Khmer Rouge. After he was ousted in a coup by his own military in 1970, largely as a result of his strong-arm rule. Known then as Prince Sihanouk, he led a resistance government, he returned aligned with the murderous regime in 1975, but was then imprisoned in his palace as Pol Pot’s extreme Communist model was enforced and killed millions.

Sihanouk narrowly escaped the country, when the Vietnamese moved in. He became a pivotal figure in international negotiations about the future of Cambodia. He argued that the Khmer Rouge would have to be part of any new government.
SIHANOUK: Nobody is capable of wiping them out. They exist.
DANIEL: When a deal was finally reached, he returned to Cambodia, first as a ceremonial President and in 1993, was reinstated as King.
Critic say Sihanouk should have been tried in court for backing the Khmer Rouge, but he denied that he legitimised the regime, which viewed him as an enemy.
In 2004, he voluntarily abdicated, passing the title of King to his his son, Norodom Siamoni.
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Norodom Sihanouk, Cambodia’s leader through decades of upheaval, dies in China at age 89

Oct 14, 2012
Sopheng Cheang, The Associated Press

Sihanouk was a ruthless politician, talented dilettante and tireless playboy, caught up in endless, almost childlike enthusiasms.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Norodom Sihanouk, the revered former king who was a towering figure in Cambodian politics through a half-century of war, genocide and upheaval, died Monday. He was 89.
Sihanouk abdicated the throne in 2004, citing his poor health. He had been getting medical treatment in China since January and had suffered a variety of illnesses, including colon cancer, diabetes and hypertension.
Prince Sisowath Thomico, a royal family member who also was Sihanouk’s assistant, said the former king suffered a heart attack at a Beijing hospital.
“His death was a great loss to Cambodia,” Thomico said, adding that Sihanouk had dedicated his life “for the sake of his entire nation, country and for the Cambodian people.”

Sihanouk’s successor, Norodom Sihamoni, is expected to fly to Beijing on Monday to retrieve his father’s body, Thomico said.
Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said an official funeral will be held once the former king’s body is repatriated.
In January, Sihanouk requested that he be cremated in the Cambodian and Buddhist tradition, asking that his ashes be put in an urn, preferably made of gold, and placed in a stupa at the country’s Royal Palace.
Sihanouk saw Cambodia transform from colony to kingdom, U.S.-backed regime to Khmer Rouge killing field and foreign-occupied land to guerrilla war zone — and finally to a fragile experiment with democracy.
He was a feudal-style monarch who called himself a democrat. He was beloved by his people but was seldom able to deliver the stability they craved through decades of violence.
Born on Oct. 31, 1922, Sihanouk enjoyed a pampered childhood in French colonial Indochina.
In 1941, the French crowned 19-year-old Sihanouk rather than relatives closer in line to the throne, thinking the pudgy, giggling prince would be easy to control. They were the first of many to underestimate him, and by 1953 the French were out.
Two years later, Sihanouk stepped down from the throne, organized a mass political party and steered Cambodia toward uneasy neutrality at the height of the Cold War.
Sihanouk accepted limited U.S. aid and nurtured relations with Communist China. He was also a founder of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Sihanouk was a ruthless politician, talented dilettante and tireless playboy, caught up in endless, almost childlike enthusiasms.
He made movies, painted, composed music, fielded a palace soccer team and led his own jazz band. His large appetite extended to fast cars, food and women. He married at least five times — some say six — and fathered 14 children.
After 1960, Sihanouk drifted toward the communist camp, seeking assurances from his powerful neighbours, China and Vietnam, that his country’s neutrality would be respected.
In 1965, Sihanouk broke off relations with Washington as U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War shifted into high gear. But by 1969, worried about increasing Vietnamese communist use of Cambodian soil, he made new overtures to the United States and turned against China.
Sihanouk’s top priority was to keep Cambodia out of the war, but he could not.U.S. aircraft bombed Vietnamese communist sanctuaries in Cambodia with increasing regularity, and his protests were ignored.
Internally, Cambodia was a one-man show. Sihanouk’s sharpest critics accused him of running a medieval state as an ancient Khmer ruler reincarnated in Western dress.
“I am Sihanouk,” he once said, “and all Cambodians are my children.”
Nonetheless, the country was at relative peace and some attempts were made to better the life of the peasants, who adored Sihanouk as a near-deity.
Outsiders saw a country of shimmering temples and emerald green rice fields that seemed a chapter from an Oriental fairy tale. But that face of Cambodia would soon vanish.
In 1970, a U.S.-backed coup sent the prince to Beijing for years of lonely, if lavish, exile. Within weeks, war broke out, beginning a systematic destruction of Cambodia that killed millions and impoverished the survivors.
Sihanouk, seeking to regain the throne, joined the Khmer Rouge-dominated rebels after his overthrow. They had numbered only a few hundred until then, but his presence gave them a legitimacy they had never before enjoyed.
The alliance left Sihanouk open to subsequent criticism that he opened the way for the Khmer Rouge holocaust. But his relations with the rebels were always strained.
“The Khmer Rouge do not like me at all, and I know that. Ooh, la, la … It is clear to me,” he said in a 1973 interview. “When they no longer need me, they will spit me out like a cherry pit.”
When the Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975 and Sihanouk returned home, they detained him and ordered his execution. Only the personal intervention of Chinese leader Zhou Enlai saved him.
With Sihanouk under house arrest in the Royal Palace, the Khmer Rouge ran an ultra-radical Maoist regime from 1975 to 1979, emptying the cities to create a vast forced labour camp. An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians were executed or died of disease and hunger under their rule.
Vietnam invaded Cambodia in December 1978 and toppled the Khmer Rouge a few weeks later. Freed as the Vietnamese advanced on Phnom Penh, Sihanouk found exile in Beijing and North Korea.
From there, he headed an unlikely coalition of three guerrilla groups fighting the Vietnamese-installed puppet government. The war lasted a decade.
In a mix of politics and theatre — bringing his French poodle to negotiations, singing love songs over elaborate dinners — Sihanouk engineered a cease-fire and moves toward national unity and peace.
Sihanouk headed the U. N.-supported interim structure that ran Cambodia until the 1993 elections, lending his prestige to attempts to unite Cambodia’s factions.
The election was won by the royalist FUNCINPEC party of Sihanouk’s son Prince Norodom Ranariddh. But it was forced into a coalition with the Cambodian People’s Party of former Khmer Rouge officer Hun Sen.
In September 1993, Sihanouk re-ascended the throne in a traditional Khmer coronation.
But the bright promise of the elections soon faded.
Four years after the polls, Hun Sen ended his constant bickering with Ranariddh by overthrowing the prince in a violent coup that shattered the results of the election.
International pressure forced Hun Sen to accept Ranariddh’s return for a second election in 1998, which was narrowly won by Hun Sen, but ended in more bloodshed as the royalists and other opposition parties forced a constitutional crisis by refusing to join a coalition with the CPP.
Sihanouk stayed on the sidelines for most of the two-year crisis, but as demonstrators clashed in the streets of Phnom Penh, he finally intervened by urging Ranariddh to accept a new coalition with his enemy Hun Sen.
During his last years, Sihanouk’s profile and influence receded. While old people in the countryside still held him in reverence, the young generation regarded him as a figure of the past and one partly responsible for Cambodia’s tragedy.
Rarely at a loss for words, he became for a time a prolific blogger, posting his musings on current affairs and past controversies. Most of his writing was literally in his own hand — his site featured images of letters, usually in French in a cramped cursive script, along with handwritten marginalia to news clippings that caught his interest.
His production tailed off, however, as he retreated further from the public eye, spending more and more time under doctor’s care in Beijing.
The hard-living Sihanouk had suffered ill health since the early 1990s. He endured cancer, a brain lesion and arterial, heart, lung, liver and eye ailments.
Ailing and weary of politics, Sihanouk stepped down from the throne in 2004 in favour of Sihamoni, a well-liked personality but one with little of the experience needed to negotiate Cambodia’s political minefields.
Senior officials in Hun Sen’s party were said to favour Sihamoni, a one-time ballet dancer and cultural ambassador, rather than a more combative figure to sit atop the influential throne.
In late 2011, on his return from another extended stay in China, Sihanouk dramatically declared that he never intended to leave his homeland again. But true to his mercurial reputation, he flew off to Beijing just a few months later for medical care.
During the same period, some of the defendants at Cambodia’s U.N.-assisted genocide trial of former senior Khmer Rouge figures sought to divert blame from themselves by suggesting that Sihanouk, as their collaborator, shared responsibility for their actions, despite his powerlessness as their virtual prisoner.