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NGOs Support Former King Sihanouk to Sue Government Media

NGOs and opposition Sam Rainsy party (SRP) officials support former King Sihanouk's plan to sue the media, radio and TV atations for airing a song sung by a popular singer, Sinn Sisamouth, in Marshall Lon Nol era, charging the king of selling Cambodia territory to the Viet Cong, saying it is defaming the former King.

The former King wants to sue for one Cambodian riel and announces beforehand that he does not want to imprison anybody, setting a good example for Khmer leaders. In his message to his adviser, Say Bori, the former King would like for Mr. Say to look for a lawyer to sue the media.

The civil societies and opposition party officials consider former King Sihanouk's action as opposite to the political leaders' actions, who use the court system to file suit against one another for millions of US dollars, and to arrest the opponents or to imprison those who express their opinions.

Mr. Kem Sokha, director of Cambodia Center for Human Rights, said that former King Sihanouk's actions are good examples. Mr. Son Chhay, SRP legislator said that he respects former King as a good head of state and that the Cambodian people and the international community respect former King Sihanouk as a noble monarch who only wants honor.

Mr. Khieu Kanharith, government spokesman and Minister of Information dismisses Mr. Kem and Mr. Son's comments, saying that they have not seen the government's suit. He said that the government did not file defamation suit, but it filed charges for inciting the people.

Mr. Sok Sam Oeun, director of the Cambodia Defense Project, said that first, the government filed the defamation suit against Mr. Mam Sonando, owner of Beehive FM 105 radio station, and Mr. Rong Chhun, president of Cambodian Independent Teachers, and put them in Prey Sar prison, then later added the incitation suit. He said that the important thing for the government to do now is judicial reform.