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Interview with Prince Sisowath Tomico on Current Situation in Cambodia

Q- Prime Minister Hun Sen has threatened in June to use military force against whoever wanted to give former King Norodom Sihanouk power as President of the National Supreme Council for Border Issue. You are one of these people. What are your comments?

R- I do not know whom Mr. Hun Sen meant at that time, because he did not mention anybody by name. I have never opposed anybody. I do not have troops, I do not side with any party, and I have not incited rebellion. I don't have bodyguards, and I do not control police forces. I have no capability to demand power for former King Sihanouk. I wrote articles and expressed my opinion as a Cambodian, and it is a right given me by the Constitution for each one of us to use to express his/her opinion on national issues.

Q- Are you worried about being intimidated, since Prime Minister Hun Sen considered the demand of power for the former King as being a coup d'etat?

R- I am not worried about my personal security, because I express my opinions as a Cambodian on national issues.

Q- Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened on a certain Royal lineage with the last name Sisowath, do you know what it was about?

R- I don't know. I accompanied King Sihamoni to Peking. There were student movement, some intellectuals, and some people who sent letters to the former King, supporting his activities, wanting to defend our territory's integrity, and stating the neighboring countries' infringement on our border. I have not written about our border issue.

Q- When you returned to Cambodia, were you afraid about your security, or you received a guarantee about your safety upon your return, or did you take a chance?

R- I have no problem, and I did not violate any law. I have two teachers. One is the former King Sihanouk, and the other one is Mohatma Gandhi. Former King Sihanouk serves his country, and he respects the law ever since his reign in 1941. I am his student, and I respect the law like him. For Mr. Gandhi, he used non-violence principle. I do not use physical force, or weapons, and I do things peacefully. I did not get in touch with authorities, and there were no negotiations, no charges, no solution to any issues. When I returned, I asked a number of people and they told me that I have something to do with national security.

Q- You resigned from former King Sihanouk's as Personal Secretary, what will you do after this?

R- I will still serve Him. I resigned from my position so that I will not be involved. I will feel bad if I express my opinions on national issues, and if I still have this position in the Royal Palace or in the former Monarch's office. I will have to remain silent, but there are some issues that I can not close my mouth, and I feel that I should express my ideas.

Q- There is a new issue concerning the sale of a land near the Royal Palace. Can you please talk about its history?

R- Talking about the history of Cambodia, this land belonged to the Royal Palace. King Ang Duoung built this Royal Palace. He passed away before its completion and he did not have a chance to occupy it yet. King Norodom continued the construction. In 1979, when the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia to deliver(liberate) the people from the Khmer Rouge, they used this land as an ammunition dump and to station their troops. The State of Cambodia's government considered this land as the Department of Interior's proprety. I think that this move erases the Cambodian history. In 1993, Cambodia became a Monarchy again. If we love monarchy, whatever has an impact on monarchy's assetts, should be defended, and the assetts should be given to the monarchy. Giving this land to the Department of Interior is related to our stance for monarchy. I believe that the royal government of Cambodia and the authorities think that Cambodia is a monarchy, and each one of us who consider himself/herself as loving the monarchy, and serving the throne, should give the royal assetts to the monarchy. Those who signed the agreement, and if there was an exchange of assetts, this move is like a look down on monarchy. I am very upset. During the election campaign in 2003, all the political parties, including the ruling parties and the opposition party, considered themselves as royalist parties. At that time, whatever had a bad impact on the monarchy, on the throne, they took it as a game. I think it is a big issue. If we want to build the monarchy, then this assett should be returned to the monarchy.

Q- Our former King Sihanouk, on August 25, resigned as President of the National Supreme Council on Border Issue. People thought that he did this because he has no power in his position as President of this Council. Some other people thought that it was due to the land sale issue. What is your opinion?

R- I resigned from my position on August 23rd. I then accompanied King Sihamoni to Peking. I did not get in touch with our former King. The former Monarch issued a letter himself saying that he is getting old, and he wanted to resign. We should take his words. About his picture displayed in public places. He said that in other countries, they display the pictures of the reigning Kings or Queens. I want to remind you that, before our former King announced his resignation, he did write many articles regarding corruptions, land grabbings, and illegal loggings. He was not happy with the present leadership. He wrote about the Sangkum Reast Niyum era, and compared it to the present era. Why did he compared the two eras? He wanted to show that the two leaderships are so different like the sky and the earth. In the Sangkum Reast Niyum, when he ruled the country, he respected the law, and people respected one another. Now, no one respects the law, you can see that the cars have no license plates, people grab the land... Our former King wrote about all the issues. We should listen to his words. He is our national Father. The party leaders, and the rulers should reflect on his criticisms and reform.