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Cambodia's King Sihanouk dies in Beijing

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First becoming king in 1941 at age 18 & guiding Cambodia through much of the 20th century, King Sihanouk has passed away at age 89. 

Cambodia's then King Norodom Sihanouk,79, greets his subjects upon his arrival at the annual crop-planting ceremony outside the royal palace in Phnom Penh in 2002 (Photo: Reuters, Chor Sokunthea)

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King Norodom Sihanouk dies in Beijing

AFP News agency, Agence France-Presse

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia's former king Norodom Sihanouk, whose life mirrored the turbulent history of his nation where he remained a revered figure, died in Beijing on Monday at the age of 89.

Sihanouk, who had been a frequent visitor to China where he received most of his medical treatment, died of a heart attack, according to his longtime personal assistant Prince Sisowath Thomico.

"He was brought to hospital and died shortly after," he told AFP of the former monarch who abruptly quit the throne in October 2004 in favour of his son, citing old age and health problems.

"It's painful. I am full of sorrow," Prince Thomico said. "King Sihanouk did not belong to his family, he belonged to Cambodia and to history."

The former king had been staying at his Beijing residence since January. He would have been 90 on October 31.

"The royal government of Cambodia will bring his body from the People's Republic of China to Phnom Penh to hold a funeral at the Royal Palace according to our traditions," said a government announcement read out on Cambodian television.

Sihanouk had fought a long battle with health problems that dogged his final years, including cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart problems.

Despite abdicating in favour of his son Sihamoni, the ex-monarch remained hugely popular in his country. His portrait still adorns public buildings and many Cambodian homes, and he used his website to communicate with the outside world.

In a message in January, he said he wanted to be cremated upon his death and have his ashes kept in an urn inside the Royal Palace, reversing an earlier wish to be buried.

Cambodians woke to the news of their former monarch's demise on the final day of the annual festival for the dead, known as Pchum Ben, when most people leave the capital Phnom Penh to spend time with their families in the countryside.

Dead ancestors are believed to emerge to walk the earth during this time, and they are honoured with prayers and food offerings at Buddhist pagodas.

Prince Thomico said he believed Cambodians would find it "significant" that Sihanouk had died at the conclusion of the 15-day festival.

In eastern Kampong Cham province, local people expressed their sorrow over the former monarch's death.

"He was a good king and watched over the country and the Cambodian people. I liked him very much," said 94-year-old Ching Sivheang.

Sihanouk was placed on the throne in 1941 at the age of 18 by French colonial authorities.

Twelve years later he gained Cambodia's independence and shortly after quit the throne for the first time in favour of his father Prince Norodom Suramarit to pursue a career in politics.

Sihanouk served as premier half a dozen times, repeatedly leaving the post with a characteristic flash of angry theatre over perceived slights, until finally becoming "head of state" following the death of his father in 1960.

He was toppled in a US-backed coup by one of his own generals, Lon Nol, in 1970.

Sihanouk then aligned himself with communist guerrillas Khmer Rouge.

The hardline communist movement used him as a figurehead as they seized power before putting him under house arrest in the royal palace with his family during their 1975-79 reign of terror.

Sihanouk later condemned the Khmer Rouge, whose bloody rule left up to two million people dead.

He regained the throne in 1993, having helped push for peace.

(Source: Bangkok Post, Asia, King Norodom Sihanouk dies in Beijing, 15/10/2012, AFP News agency, Agence France-Presse, link)

Cambodian Monarchy Vocabulary

Norodom Sihanouk - (1922 – 2012) "the King of Cambodia from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 until 2004. He was the effective ruler of Cambodia from 1953 until 1970.... held so many positions since 1941 that the Guinness Book of World Records identifies him as the politician who has served the world's greatest variety of political offices. These included two terms as King, two as sovereign prince, one as president, two as prime minister, as well as numerous positions as leader of various governments-in-exile" (See Wikipedia)

monarch - a king or queen  กษัตริย์ หรือราชินี
the throne –
the monarchy, especially the highest position (King or Queen) สถาบันกษัตริย์
subject - a person who is a citizen in a country ruled by a king or queen ประชากร, พลเมือง, ไพร่ฟ้าข้าแผ่นดิน, ผู้อยู่ภายใต้การปกครอง

abdicate - 1. when a king or queen gives up power (steps down from the throne); 2. abandon or surrender something such as a right ทำให้สละราชสมบัติ, ทำให้สละอำนาจ, ละเลยหน้าที

abdicate throne in favour of  - when a king or queen gives up power and gives power to someone else 

mirror - to show how something is
turbulent - changing often or difficult to control ผันผวน

revered - respected 
figure - someone who is important in some way บุคคลสำคัญ

frequent - happening often เกิดขึ้นบ่อย
medical treatment - the process of providing medical care การรักษา

abruptly - suddenly and unexpectedly, and often unpleasant อย่างกะทันหัน
favour - something you do for someone in order to help them สิ่งที่ทำให้เป็นพิเศษด้วยความชื่นชม to give an advantage to someone or something ช่วยเหลือ

citing - mentioning as a reason  ให้ อ้างอิงเหตุผล
sorrow - great sadness ความโศกสลด ความเศร้าโศก

- a place where someone lives ที่พำนัก ที่อาศัย ที่อยู่อาศัย บ้านพัก
funeral - a ceremony that takes place after someone dies, usually including a religious ceremony งานศพ ในที่นี้หมายถึง งารพระราชพิธีพระราชทานเพลิงพระศพ

tradition - 
fought a long
battle with health problems - had painful and difficult to cure diseases

- troubled ถูกรบกวน
cancer - โรคมะเร็ง

- a serious medical condition in which your body does not produce enough insulin to reduce the amount of sugar in the blood โรคเบาหวาน
hypertension - high blood pressure ความดันโลหิตสูง

- a painting, photograph, drawing, etc. of a person ภาพวาดหรือภาพถ่ายคน
adorn -  ตกแต่ง, แต่ง

communicate –
to express thoughts, feelings, or information to another person or animal, for example by speaking or writing ติดต่อสื่อสาร

cremate – to burn the body of a dead person เผาศพ
ashes - อัฐิ, ขี้เถ้า

urn –
a container for the ashes of a dead person after the body has been burnt พระโกศ
reversing - changing something that happened in the past

- covered completely by the earth, soil ฝัง
demise - death ความตาย

annual - happening once a year ประจำปี
festival – an event that is held to celebrate a particular thing or activity เทศกาล

- people in your family who lived a long time ago บรรพบุรุษ
emerge - appear or come into being

honoured -
show respect to a person or thing
prayer - การสวดมนต์

offering -  
ของบูชา, ของถวาย
pagoda -
 เจดีย์,  พระเจดีย์

- important สำคัญ
conclusion - the final part of something, in this case การสิ้นสุดลง การสรุป การตกลงขั้นสุดท้าย

- in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about  ท้องถิ่น
local people - people who live in a local area or "community"

authorities - government officials; the police or people in official organisations who have the legal power to make people obey laws or rules เจ้าหน้าที่ (ตำรวจ หรือผู้มีอำนาจ)
colonial - connected with or belonging to a country that controls another country เกี่ยวกับอาณานิคม
colonial authorities

independence - ความเป็นเอกราช

pursue - to try to achieve something ดำเนินตาม, พยายามเพื่อให้ได้มาซึ่ง to work at something or carry it out ทำให้ลุล่วง
pursue a career in politics

premier - Prime Minister นายกรัฐมนตรี
the post -
a position in government

repeatedly - happening many times, over and over again
characteristic - something that is part of this person, part of identity or description of person

angry theatre -
acting in an angry (as if you are an actor performing for people watching you in a theatre)
flash of angry theatre
a characteristic flash of angry theatre

perceive -
to feel that something is a certain way
slight -
insult, saying something bad about another person ประมาท

perceived slight - to feel that something is an insult (may or may not truly be an insult)
a characteristic flash of angry theatre over perceived slights

state - government รัฐ
head of state -  ประมุขแห่งรัฐ

coup (d’etat) – the seizure of power in a country by a group of people, usually members of the armed forces รัฐประหาร
backed - supported ให้การสนับสนุน
US-backed coup

aligned - supporting; connected with ที่สนับสนุน ที่เกี่ยวข้อง
guerillas - people who fight a secret war to gain control of a country
communist guerrillas Khmer Rouge

hardline -
sticking to ideas or principles (not changing or adapting to fit reality)  ที่ยึดมั่นในหลักการ
movement - a group of people who share the same aim and work together to achieve it การเคลื่อนไหวเพื่อวัตถุประสงค์ทางการเมือง
hardline communist movement

figurehead - a person who rules only in name (for the image, but has no real power) ผู้เป็นหัวหน้าแต่ในนาม,หุ่นเชิด
seize power -
take control of the country

house arrest - when you must stay in your home and never leave (so that your home is same as a jail)
reign - a period of time during when some person or group rules a country  ช่วงเวลาครองราชย์

- violence used for making people very frightened in order to achieve political aims การก่อการร้าย  การสร้างความหวาดกลัว
of terror - controlling  a country with violence (many people dieing)

rule - Same as "reign of terror"
condemned - criticised severely ประณาม

push for peace -
try hard to make peace in a country

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