October 16, 2012 (TSR) – Cambodian retired King Norodom Sihanouk died of natural cause at the age of 90 in Beijing, China, early Monday, a government statement said on Monday.
The King-Father Norodom Sihanouk died at 1:20 a.m. early Monday (local time in Phnom Penh) at the age of 90 due to natural cause in the Beijing Hospital of China, said the statement announced by the state-owned National Television of Cambodia.
“The government of Cambodia will bring his royal body from China to Phnom Penh in order to hold a traditional funeral at the Royal Palace,” it said.
Chinese President Hu Jintao expressed his condolences.
In his message to reigning king Norodom Sihamoni and former queen Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, Hu also sent sincere condolences to the government and people of Cambodia.
Hu said the death of Sihanouk, who led the Cambodians to independence, national reconciliation and peaceful development, was a huge loss to the Cambodian people.
Sihanouk was a great friend of the Chinese people and had contributed much to the strengthening of the friendship between the peoples of the two countries, Hu said.
Hu also expressed his firm belief that, with the joint efforts of the two countries, the China-Cambodia relationship would continue its strong growth momentum, bringing benefits to both peoples.
On the same day, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao and Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Jia Qinglin also sent condolence messages to senior Cambodian leaders over the former king’s death.
Meanwhile, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visited Cambodia’s former Queen Norodom Monineath Sihanouk on Monday morning to express his condolence and sympathy following the death of former King Norodom Sihanouk.
Xi, on behalf of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the Chinese government and the people, expressed deep condolence and sincere sympathy to the former queen, King of Cambodia Norodom Sihamoni, other members of the royal family, the Cambodian government and the people.
“We are greatly shocked and grieved to learn that His Majesty former King Sihanouk died this morning in Beijing,” Xi said after a silent tribute in front of a portrait of Sihanouk, who died of illness at the age of 90 early Monday morning.
Xi said Sihanouk, a great leader loved and esteemed by the Cambodian people, devoted his life to national independence and peaceful development of his country.
He spoke highly of Sihanouk as an old friend of the Chinese people, who forged a profound friendship with generations of Chinese leaders and made an indelible contribution to create and cultivate China-Cambodia relations. Xi said Sihanouk would live in the hearts of Chinese and Cambodian people forever.
Xi said he believed that the friendship between the two nations would continue and develop.
Monineath thanked Xi for his visit. She said former King Sihanouk was a loyal, old and good friend of the Chinese people, who pursued a long-term friendly policy towards China and lived in the country for a long period.
She said China was a second home for Sihanouk and her as the Chinese took care of them during their stay. She also thanked those for the treatment given to Sihanouk after his seizure.
Monineath said she believed the Cambodia-China friendship and cooperation would continue to prosper.
Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee Li Zhanshu and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi accompanied Xi to visit the former queen. The same senior officials also visited the King-Father as he was dying and conveyed the sympathy, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen arrived in Beijing on Monday afternoon to bring home the body of King-Father Norodom Sihanouk, who died of illness at the age of 90 early Monday morning in Beijing.
They were greeted at the airport by Chinese officials, including Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.
IN MEMORIAM KING-FATHER NORODOM SIHANOUK
Born on Oct. 31, 1922, Norodom Sihanouk reigned Cambodia from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 until his voluntary abdication on Oct. 7, 2004 in favor of his son, the current King Norodom Sihamoni.
Sihanouk is the son of King Norodom Suramarit and Queen Sisowath Kossamak. During his life time, he had held many positions since 1941, including two terms as the king, two as sovereign prince, one as president, two as prime minister, and one as Cambodia’s non-titled head of state.
He was named the Father of Independence, Territorial Integrity and Khmer Unification. Sihanouk’s actual period of effective rule over Cambodia was from Nov. 9, 1953, when France granted independence to Cambodia, until March 18, 1970, when Lon Nol and the National Assembly deposed him.
In his early life from 1930 to 1940, Sihanouk received primary education in a Phnom Penh primary school; he pursued his secondary education in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam) at Lycee Chasseloup Laubat until his coronation and then later attended Cavalry military school in Saumur, France, from 1946 to 1948.
When his maternal grandfather, King Sisowath Monivong died on April 23, 1941, the Crown Council selected Prince Sihanouk as King of Cambodia. At that time, colonial Cambodia was part of French Indochina. His first coronation took place on Oct. 28, 1941.
After the country fully gained independence from France on March 2, 1955, Sihanouk abdicated in favor of his father, established the Sangkum Reasniyum regime and took the post of prime minister a few months later, after having obtained an overwhelming victory in the parliamentary elections in September 1955.
His second coronation was made on Sept. 24, 1993; he abdicated the second time on Oct. 7, 2004 due to ill health.
On March 18, 1970, while Sihanouk was out of the country traveling, the then Prime Minister Lon Nol convened the National Assembly, which voted to depose Sihanouk as head of state. After he was deposed, Sihanouk fled to Beijing.
During Lon Nol’s regime (Khmer Republic), Sihanouk mostly lived in exile in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Prince Sihanouk returned to Cambodia on Nov. 14, 1991 after thirteen years in exile. In 1993, Sihanouk once again became King of Cambodia. However, he suffered from ill health and traveled repeatedly to Beijing for medical treatment.
Sihanouk’s leisure interests included music and he had composed songs in Khmer, French and English for a number of films.