Vox Pop: What's Cambodians remember about King Father Norodom Sihanouk

Lok Kak, 62,has been serving as a tricycle rickshaw rider in front of Royal Palace for seven years. In Sihanouk regime, he was a farmer who witnessed the late king visiting his communities.

 Lok Kak, 62, a tricycle rickshaw rider in front of Royal Palace for seven years. / Photo by Leng Len"I was shocked when hearing that the king father passed away. I had an unforgettable memory with him that I will miss him forever. I could still remember that whenever he went off the communities, he usually dropped the clothes a head of his plane landing. At that time, I lived in Ponhealeu district, Kandal province. I saw him helping people in their farming during each visit. He was a warm-heart king ever in the world whose love shared very equally to his people whom he considered as children and grandchildren. I really enjoyed my living under his time. It was carefree of living: no gangster fighting, and very less hearing of raping. We enjoyed watching his film. It was a fantastic time when we, my neighbors and I sat together after relaxing from our farming."

Svay Sam Oeu, 74, is a monk from Somroangtong, Kompong Speu.

Svay Sam Oeu, 74, a monk from Somroangtong district, Kampong Speu province. / Photo by Leng len "In the Sangkum Reastr Niyum, I was a novice monk. I lived in Buddhist pagoda learning Tripitaka, the earliest collection of Buddhist writings. Usually, when the king had inauguration and new school opening ceremony, I was one of the monks who presented in the event and prayed for the ceremony. I attended the first Buddhist school founded by the king, Sihanouk primary and high school for monks, or commonly known as ‘Sihanoukreach High School.’ He built not only schools for general students but also schools for monk students. He built Sihanouk port and train transportation. He constructed irrigation system in Kompong Speu to make sure our farm worked well. His achievements are countless. He was our country hero, who claimed the independence for us. He traveled across the kingdom to visit his people. He was a good king whose spirit and charisma were profound rare. He had developed many fields: education, Buddhism, agriculture, public transportation, health and other sectors. I can’t imagine Cambodian without him.”

Tuy Sokhom, 70, was a policewoman in the Sangkum Reastr Niyum at Kein Svay. Speaking with tear, she revealed her feeling:

Tuy Sokhom, 70, was a policewoman in the Sangkum Reastr Niyum at Kein Svay district, Kandal province. / Photo by Leng Len ”I was a policewoman and my husband worked in the palace as a messenger. However, I did not work really close to the King. I had been working in Banteay Meanchey province. The king father had been achieved many things for us. For example, I travelled to work in Banteay Meanchey from Phnom Penh and the way was so nice and there were no robberies or any bad social order. The whole trip was free and no one bothered you or ruined your life. Everyone loved the king. He usually went to the local communities and met people. He distributed us cloth for making dress. I usually got a set of cloth and money of 5000 riels during his visit—it was a million worth at that time. I also joined him to construct the irrigation at Banteay Meanchey. I had a great time watching film at the Royal palace with the king and other fellow Cambodians. He had kind heart, met all types of people, and never discriminated his people.”

Vy Channy, 24, is a third year student at the Phnom Penh International University (PPIU) majoring in Tourism

Vy Channy, 24, is a third year student at the Phnom Penh International University (PPIU) majoring in Tourism. / Photo by Leng Len“Since I was young, I have spent time watching documentaries featuring his achievement through TV with my families and friends. I know that he left us many things. Firstly, he brought us independence; Olympic Stadium for multi-sport events; industrial development; and factories, sugar factory particularly. My families love him. My parents and other elders told me many things about him. I think he was a god king. He was a simple king, son, soldier, prime minister, filmmaker, and song composer and served other roles throughout his life. It was a prosperous time during his leading. There were cinema, market, security and other social orders. Our architecture also shined; we had very beautiful buildings.”

Hom Soken, 21, a sociology student at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP). He feels regretful about the death of the king Norodom Sihanouk like many other people in Cambodia.

Hom Soken, 21, a sociology student at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. / Photo by Sour Piseth

“When hearing about our king father death, I was shocked so much as millions of other Cambodian. Even though I was not born in the King Father regime, I regard him as my hero. He is the hero in Cambodian history. Independence Monument is what makes Cambodian proud. I have leant in class a lot about his achievements and past life. During monarchy, people were living in peaceful and proper condition under his leadership. He is a person who could claim for complete independence from French colonial in November 9, 1953. I went to the Royal palace three times in order to pray for my hero king, and I saw lot of people there. They looked so sad and shown their love to our King Father. King Norodom Sihanouk death creates a unity symbol for Cambodian. He will remain in people’s mind forever.:

Article by: Leng Len & Sour Piseth
E-mail: len.leng2011@gmail.com & sourpiseth@ymail.com
Photo by: Leng Len & Sour Piseth
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About Writers:

Len's profile photoLENG LEN, 20, is a junior of Media Management at the Department of Media and Communication (DMC) of Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP). Len has devoted her spare time in volunteering job for various NGOs involving with variety of social issues: Child Rights, Advocate, Domestic Violence, Reproductive health and so on. She even brought them into discussion among authorities and stakeholders when she was in high school. “Being a journalist is what I had dreamt, and I hope I could help people explore new thing around the world. I am not afraid of facing new challenges.  I am born to be friendly, helpful and never demand besides sharing and helping each other,” said Len, adding that smiling is her symbol.