The adoptive father - King Sihanouk of Cambodia (Excerpts)
44 pages

The adoptive father - King Sihanouk of Cambodia (Excerpts)


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44 pages
YouScribe est heureux de vous offrir cette publication


Journalists, diplomats, and scholars have spilled a lot of ink over King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia. However, no observer has ever publicly analysed many essential facets of the human being.
Beneath the carapace of the Head of State, what are the characteristics of the psychological make-up of the private person? What kind of resilience enabled him to survive destiny’s cruellest twists and turns, and then to achieve a victory applauded without reserve by the United Nations’ member states?
This is the focus of this essay. It uses a subjective viewpoint to describe the king’s childhood and adolescence. It sheds an unconventional light on what experts in international relations have not perceived in the man who was active in the political arena from April 1941 to October 2004.
US Ambassador John Gunther Dean, who had to flee Phnom-Penh in 1975, is one of the outstanding personalities who understood the true nature of King Sihanouk. He wrote the foreword of Poivre’s book.
This essay is available on Amazon and the iBookstore.



Publié par
Publié le 23 avril 2013
Nombre de lectures 98
Langue English


Tipram Poivre
An Unusual Portrait of King Sihanouk of Cambodia
To the man who gave me something more precious than life
Chapter 1 : Twilight
Chapter 2 : The Fruit of Love
Chapter 3 : The Chrysalis
Chapter 4 : The First Roars
Chapter 5 : The Jaws of the Lion
Chapter 6 : Foggy Bottom or Might Makes Right
Chapter 7 : The Iniquity
Chapter 8 : The Farewell
About the Author
*~*~*~*~* Foreword
At the moment when King Sihanouk is leaving our world, I am anxious to give my
testimony of the crucial and essential role he played in the international arena throughout the
thsecond half of the 20 century.

I first met him in 1953, when I was appointed acting Head of the Economic Assistance
Mission in Cambodia. I fully shared his views on the need for economic and social
development. Through France, the US also financially supported the implementation of the
Cambodian army with a view to defend the country and to encourage the march towards
Sihanouk was aware that Cambodia’s salvation rested in neutrality, and he has always
protected the strategic interests of Cambodia. He was a Nationalist who strove to keep his
country out of the Indochina War. He was so perfectly right!
Sihanouk was the type of man whom Manicheans could not understand. Unfortunately, in
those days, the Western World, and particularly the United States, were doggedly opposed to
neutrality. They divided the world into pro-communists and anti-communists. Under
Sihanouk, Cambodia was neither one nor the other. It was a small country situated between
two rivals, Thailand and Vietnam, and its only defender in the region was China. In Europe,
he was supported by General Charles de Gaulle.

Sihanouk considered the 1970 coup instigated by General Lon Nol as treason. He sought
refuge in Beijing, for he was convinced that the three Indochinese countries’ struggle for
independence could not be stopped by the US intervention. Sihanouk has been harshly
criticized for having decided to spend his exile in Beijing and for having accepted the support
of the Khmer Rouges. In those days, he may have perceived them as the defenders of the
Khmer independence who rejected all foreign influence.
I think that, with time, Sihanouk became critical of the Khmer Rouges. But the American
raging bombings, which caused numerous civilians deaths, have probably persuaded him to
maintain his alliance with the Khmer Rouges. It must be added that for many years, Sihanouk
had experienced very bad relationships with the CIA, and that he was wary of this
organisation’s harmful role.
The duty of a Head of State is to stand for his country and his people’s long-term
interests. In this regard, Sihanouk was among the greatest personalities of his time, and a
leader of vision. Small countries must steer clear of the Great Powers’ conflicts.
Sihanouk understood that Bandung and then the Non-Aligned Movement – of which he
was one of the founding-fathers – was the path to follow in order to avoid a military disaster
and remain independent. He has been a neutralist his whole life long, but the Western World,
and particularly the US, did not approve his policy.
As far as I am concerned, I fully agree with King Sihanouk, and following him,
I proclaim: “Long live the Bandung spirit!”

I feel deeply honoured to write this homage to my friend Sihanouk, and I do hope that
with time, History will prove him right. May he rest in peace.


John Gunther Dean
Ambassador of the United States of America to Cambodia (1974-1975)
1 – Twilight
“The news is not too good today.”
If the Queen, her adoptive mother, starts her message with cautious words, it means that
the situation is critical. This is what Ti said to herself in alarm. She left her electronic slate to
fetch a wooden box stored away from light, in which there was a small phial of hemlock
essential oil, the properties of which have proved terrifically soothing. She poured two drops
of pale yellow liquid in the hollow of her elbows and massaged the skin vigorously with her
fist. She absorbed large gulps of aromatic molecules, inhaling and expiring loudly, on the
verge of dizziness, staring at the crescent moon which stood out against the starry sky of
Paris. Since this silvery comma could subdue the ebb and flow of the sea, it could also abate
any peril on our earth, if a loving heart prayed for it fervently enough.
When her pulse started to calm down, Ti resumed reading the mail received from Beijing,
dissecting every sentence to detect the peril which might be lurking behind the apparent
banality. The sword of Damocles was about to fall, and the Queen tried to tiptoe the
information so as not to arouse panic, or perhaps in order to keep her own dread in check.
King Sihanouk, Ti's adoptive father, is already in his nineties and must face a fourth or fifth
cancer attack, she does not know exactly, because she has stopped counting them. Has the
distressing denouement become ineluctable? Is the lifespan of the man to whom she owes so
much nearing its end? This eventuality pierced her stomach, even though she was aware that
it was but the natural outcome of any terrestrial life.
She forced herself to visualise what would come next: the tropical humidity, the bier laid
under a canopy ornate with long brocade curtains, pristine banners, candles throwing
flickering flashes of brightness on silver trays. Wreaths of tuberoses, jasmine, and frangipani
flowers arranged in hedges, basins of lustral water, sugary vapours of melting wax,
incandescent incense sticks crying tears of ashes. Monotonous lines of monks chanting ritual
psalms, naked feet pattering on the carpets, the family dressed in white, affected
countenances, appropriate sniffs. Outside the palace, across the street, the clatter of the
carpenters erecting the base of the pyre with their drills, their saws, and their hammers.
Ti decided that she would not attend the cremation ceremonies, because the prospect of
mixing with certain greedy princes and princesses made her gorge rise. Their fantasies are
commensurate with their voracity, and their conceit makes them impervious to the amorality of their behaviour. Illegal logging of precious wood, embezzlement of funds raised for the
Cambodian Red Cross, undeserved advantages, nepotism, influence peddling, nothing shocks
them. While the populace at large struggles for its survival, Their Royal Highnesses live high
on the hog. They strive to outdo each other with their extravagances, and they proudly flaunt
pretentious villas, trendy limousines, fully-loaded 4x4, plastic surgery operations, mistresses
or gigolos, unless they are busy gambolling from one time zone to another to purchase
aircraft, precious stones, or any new pricey whim.
As if multitudes of men, women, and children had not perished under the fire of
American B-52 bombers, as if the Khmers Rouges’ madness had not stained with blood the
history of humanity forever, egocentric royals strut about in the best palaces with the vulgarity
of parvenus. Their gold jewellery and the glimmering silk clasped around their bribe-stuffed
bodies fail to conceal their venality. They couldn’t care less. Wherever they go, they set their
lips in a pout of disdain and stick out their chest. Although they exhibit the stamps of their
infamy, they expect everyone to kowtow to them. It does not dawn on them that their only
right is to be a model of virtue and to heal their country's wounds.
There are however a couple of exceptions, a few persons of integrity totally unmoved by
the sirens of corruption such as Queen Monique and her sons, namely Prince Narindrapong,
who denounced the uselessness of the upper classes, and King Sihamoni, who was elected by
the Council of the Crown in 2004. The majority of the rascals who have been, or still are,
entrusted with high responsibilities wallow without restraint in depravity. They grow rich by
shovelling up kickbacks, with no commiseration for the afflictions of the Khmer people, and
with no concern for the degrading image they give of the elite. They aspire to rake in more
and more money and, adorned with the most pompous titles, hasten to abide by the demands
of anyone willing to grease their princely palms.
Selling off their honour to the multinational corporations which plunder Cambodia does
not satiate their ferocious appetite. As King Sihanouk’s health deteriorates, they sharpen their
claws and get ready to snatch whatever they can from what they assume to be a colossal
fortune. They cannot believe that the King owns nothing abroad, aside from a meagre bank
account in Paris, on Rue Saint-Lazare. In the early 1980s, he donated to UNICEF his modest
cottage in Mougins, off National road 7. As to the sumptuous Beijing mansion, the former
French Legation where he resides when he travels to China, although it is put at his disposal
by the Chinese government, it remains the property of China, which bears the costs of
maintenance and general upkeep. In a period when the media disclose the scandalous extent of the material riches
dishonestly amassed by certain political leaders and corporate executiv

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