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Make Royals the Nation’s Ambassadors: Prince

Members of the royal family should be appointed to ambassadorial positions, where their political neutrality and high educations can serve Cambodia, an outspoken prince says.

The royalists have diminished rapidly as a political force in recent years. But members of the royal family still have “high knowledge” in the constitutional monarchy, said Sisowath Thomico, chief of cabinet for retired king Norodom Sihanouk.

The royal family currently has just one ambassador; Norodom Arunrasmy, the former king’s daughter, is ambassador to Malaysia.

Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment, but Cheam Yiep, a National Assembly lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said he personally supports the idea.

“These are the high officials of our Kingdom of Cambodia,” he said.

Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party, said in other countries, royal families work on social issues, charity or justice. Positioning royals as ambassadors would not be politically neutral, as those appointments would come through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The royal family has gradually lost political power. Sihanouk stepped down in 2004, ending a long career of statesmanship, and in subsequent years, the royalist parties have lost support.

Around 30 members within the royal bloodlines have ceased politics, Sisowath Thomico said. The royal family has sometimes feuded, or members have opposed each other in politics. But that’s in the past, he said.

“Royal family members almost all have stopped doing politics and have come to serve the king, serve the throne and serve the nation in a different way,” he said.

Ambassadorships could be one way they might contribute, he said.

Sisowath Seryroth, second vice president of the Funcinpec party, said royalists should not leave politics, not “until there is a law stipulated by the National Assembly and Senate that bans royal family members from doing politics.”