CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

Print Print Email Email Share Share Cite Cite
Style: MLA APA Chicago Close

loading...

Is Cambodia’s King a Prisoner in his Castle?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
May 31, 2011

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni greets officials on the first day of the annual water festival along the Tonle Sap river in Phnom Penh November 20, 2010.

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni greets officials on the first day of the annual water festival along the Tonle Sap river in Phnom Penh November 20, 2010. (Chor Sokunthea/Courtesy Reuters)

The Associated Press this week has a fascinating article about King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia, the country’s head of state and one of the few remaining Buddhist monarchs. It alleges that, as Prime Minister Hun Sen has centralized all authority around himself, Sihamoni has become little more than a prisoner in his own palace, able to exert no influence and longing to return to the Czech Republic, where he spent much of his life.

Although the outlines of Hun Sen’s growing authoritarianism are by now well known–check out the country reports on Cambodia by Freedom House or Human Rights Watch–this piece offers a wealth of detail on how Hun Sen, a rugged survivor of decades of politics, has managed to sideline basically the only other powerful institution left in Cambodia.

Post a Comment 2 Comments

  • Posted by Don Jameson

    The article fails to mention one important piece of evidence that King Sihamoni is living under virtual house arrest at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh (similar to Sihanou’s condition under the Khmer Rouge): he was not allowed to attend the royal wedding in London last month, to which all reigning monarchs in the world were invited. He is rarely seen or heard from in Cambodia except during ceremonial events such as the Water Festival.

  • Posted by Geoffrey Cain

    Fascinating post. I wonder if the king’s four North Korean bodyguards play a role in keeping him inside the castle.

Post a Comment

CFR seeks to foster civil and informed discussion of foreign policy issues. Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions. All comments must abide by CFR's guidelines and will be moderated prior to posting.

* Required