Palace Birthday Celebration for Queen Mother a Subdued Affair
By | June 19, 2014

As workers across the country enjoyed a day off Wednesday to commemorate Queen Mother Norodom Monineath’s birthday, the woman at the center of the occasion celebrated quietly with about 60 members of her extended family at the Royal Palace.

The Queen Mother marked her 78th year by receiving blessings from five Buddhist monks at a small ceremony inside the palace at 9 a.m., according to Prince Sisowath Thomico, who attended the event.

Queen Mother Norodom Monineath inspects a seven-tier cake made in honor of her 78th birthday on Wednesday in a photograph posted to the Facebook page of Princess Norodom Arunrasmey.

Queen Mother Norodom Monineath inspects a seven-tier cake made in honor of her 78th birthday on Wednesday in a photograph posted to the Facebook page of Princess Norodom Arunrasmey.

“Her Majesty Queen Mother has been in mourning for the late King Father Preah Norodom Sihanouk, so there is no big celebration, no music and no royal dinner for Royal Highness Queen Mother Norodom Monineath,” the Prince said.

“There have been a number of blessing letters and baskets of flowers sent by various ambassadors and diplomats to Cambodia, but there was no royal reception with government leaders and other officials,” he added.

Prince Thomico explained that since the late King Father’s death in October 2012, the Queen Mother had stopped holding large birthday celebrations.

“In the past, the [late] King Father held a royal dinner with diplomats and government leaders, but there are no loud music or dining reception since the late King Father passed away,” he said.

However, a seven-tier birthday cake shaped like the royal umbrella was presented to the Queen Mother during the day, and last night a fireworks display was launched across the Tonle Sap river from the Royal Palace.

The occasion brought together many royal family members from across the political spectrum, including Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who earlier this month launched the Community of Royalist People Party, and Prince Norodom Chakrapong, a long-time CPP stalwart.

State-run television station TVK screened movies starring the late King Father and the Queen Mother in the run-up to Wednesday’s national holiday.

Blessing messages from various government institutions were printed in local newspapers, while the state-owned AKP news agency ran similar messages from a number of high-ranking officials, including National Police Chief Neth Savoeun and Interior Minister Sar Kheng.

Chhin Ketana, secretary-general of the National Committee for Organizing National and International Festivals, said the Queen Mother’s portrait had been displayed in front of ministries and government buildings to honor her birthday.

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Free Trade Union President Chea Mony on Monday became the second union leader to be placed under judicial supervision this month by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for alleged criminal activity during nationwide garment worker strikes in December and January.

Phnom Penh dentist Eng Lykuong, who alleges she was defrauded of $1 million by a Cambodia-based company, on Monday rejected government spokesman Phay Siphan’s accusation that she had attacked his reputation by revealing that he had acted on behalf of one of the defendants in the case, jailed Cambodian-American businessman Richer San.

At least 10 environmental activists, including a Spanish national, were detained in Koh Kong province Monday after they attempted to prevent officials from reaching a community of ethnic minority villagers who have been protesting plans for a hydropower dam that would flood their ancestral home and a critical wildlife habitat.

A soldier who wounded an ethnic Bunong man when he fired in his direction while guarding a rubber concession in Mondolkiri province earlier this month will not be arrested because the victim suffered only a “small injury,” police said Monday.

Before she was brutally murdered in February, Va Dary felt like a prisoner in her own home —a two-story gated residence given to her by the two-star military general charged on Sunday with killing her and their 6-year-old daughter, her mother said Monday.

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