Hun Sen Cites ‘Miracle’ for His Role in Royal Cremation
By Neou Vannarin – February 17, 2013, The Cambodia Daily
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday said that the brief delay in lighting the casket at the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk’s cremation on February 4 was a “miracle” that allowed him alone to finally ignite the flame after four failed attempts by others.
Speaking at an inauguration ceremony at Phnom Penh’s Svay Por Pe pagoda, in his first public speech since the cremation, Mr. Hun Sen said the delay in cremating the former King’s body—scheduled to be burned at 6 p.m. but not ignited until shortly after 6:30—was because Norodom Sihanouk’s spirit was waiting for the prime minister to personally light the casket.
“This is a miracle of the late King Father’s sacred power; an impossible thing occurred at the time,” Mr. Hun Sen said. “Igniting the royal flame was attempted five times before it worked, this is a sacred power.”
Mr. Hun Sen said that King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath were unsuccessful in their first three attempts to set the casket alight. For the fourth try, the Queen Mother invited the two supreme patriarchs of the Mahanikaya and Dhammayuttika Nikaya Buddhist sects to join the monarchs in igniting the flame, but this also failed.
“For the fifth time, it was me alone,” said Mr. Hun Sen.
“I knelt down to the feet of his majesty [the King Father] and prayed that I was sorry for setting [his body] on fire, but I had no choice. So, I brought forth the fire, and the flame finally ignited.
“I told the Queen Mother that his majesty did not want to leave his children. In response, the Queen Mother said ‘[the King Father] was waiting for you,’” he said.
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Controversy over Cambodia PM’s land titling plan
By Michelle Fitzpatrick (AFP) – Oct 6, 2012
PHNOM PENH — Cambodian students have fanned out across the impoverished nation to help grant land titles to villagers in an ambitious but contentious new scheme spearheaded by the prime minister.
When Hun Sen announced his titling plan in June, apparently without first consulting local authorities and communities, it was billed as a way to clamp down on land conflicts, seen as Cambodia’s most pressing human rights issue.
But the strongman premier later backtracked, saying the more than 1,600 student volunteers recruited would not be measuring land in disputed areas at all, baffling campaigners who already lamented a lack of detail about the plan.
“For those in non-conflict areas it’s very good, but it doesn’t address the major problem. People who are most in need of land titles won’t receive them,” said Nicolas Agostini of local rights group ADHOC.
The university students are now tasked with demarcating 1.8 million hectares (4.4 million acres) of uncontested territory so officials can issue titles to 470,000 families within the next few months.
In the project’s first major milestone last month, Hun Sen personally delivered more than 500 property titles to families in Kratie, the same eastern province where security forces shot dead a 14-year-old girl during a land battle with villagers in May, in a case that shocked the nation.
Land ownership is a highly controversial issue in Cambodia, where the communist Khmer Rouge regime banned private property in the late 1970s and many legal documents were lost.
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