Thursday, September 01, 2005

Cambodians like to see ex-king's portraits remain on public

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 29 (Xinhuanet) -- Most of Cambodians would like to see their former King Norodom Sihanouk's portraits remain on public display.

An informal poll published by The Cambodia Daily on Monday shows that most would like to see the retired King's portraits remain.

The former king, who is currently in Beijing for medical treatment, asked the government and private citizens to take down images of himself and former queen Monineath from schools and public buildings.

Only portraits of the reigning king should be displayed, he said in a message in French posted on his website dated Wednesday.

"The retired King is a symbol of a whole nation," Diep Chhuon, deputy governor of Banteay Meanchey province, was quoted as saying."Taking (the royal portraits) down would make people wonder, worry.It would be a bad omen," he added.

"His Majesty King Sihamoni's portrait would look lonely," PraunVa, a high school director in Kandal province said. The royal couple's portraits have now hung side by side with the new monarch in schools, pagodas and government buildings.

King Norodom Sihamoni asked his father to reconsider his request, suggesting that doing so would unsettle the Cambodian people.

"Monks, Buddhists, ordinary people and government officials think the King-Father and Queen-Mother have done great deeds for the nation," the King wrote in the letter to his father. "If there are no portraits of your majesties, we will feel ill at ease and far from your great generosity."

Meanwhile, FUNCINPEC party President Prince Norodom Ranariddh also requested that his father should rethink his request.

But there were also some critics saying the former king has good reason for wanting to see his portrait removed. He (Sihanouk)was likely sending a necessary message by asking that his portrait be removed, opposition leader Son Chhay said.

"A new King is on the throne, but we want to believe (Norodom Sihanouk) is still our King," he said.

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