jeudi, novembre 09, 2006

The Cambodian Minority Of Cochinchina

News from Cambodia N° 0651-E


Khemara Jati
Montreal, Quebec
November 8th, 2006

By request of many of our readers, we reproduce below an excerpt of the Conference of Information, made by Louis Malleret, at Saigon, on December 17th, 1945, under the patronage of the Office of Cultural Affairs of the Federal Service of the Public Education, for the officers and the civil servants of the Indochina Expeditionary Force (French), reproduced entirely under the title « The Cambodian Minority of Cochinchina » in the « Bulletin of the Society of the Indo-China Studies », Tome XXI, 1st semester 1946, S.I.L.I ., Saigon on 1946.

In this conference, Malleret showed how the colonial power vietnamised Cochinchina by depriving Cambodians of knowledge of their mother tongue in order of defending itself against the administration which using only the French and Vietnamese languages.

It is not question for us to call our fellow countrymen to revenge against the colonial policy led by France for a century, but only to show how France proceeded to vietnamize Cochinchina. It belongs to us to learn how to guide our current struggles to cover and recover our national independence in our territorial and maritime integrity and also to our brothers of the Kampuchea Krom to protect her cultural identity.

Study the history to take revenge of the past or for a judgment, is the way of trying to flee the responsibilities on the future of the community. Study the history is potentially to enlighten our road to guide to the better future. On the other hand, it is curious to notice that our history is mainly written by foreigners. Why Cambodia does not have yet another serious committee for the research of the history ? Can these researches be effectively materialize if we do not settle beforehand certain questions on the “historic science” matter ? All the big historians of the world ask these questions. There is no single answer, but multiple answers which amount to this : there is no historic truth, but a way of threatening the past to prepare the future.

« Many persons and, it seems, even certain authors of manual workers make our work progressed in a strangely artless image. In the beginning, they would say gladly, are documents. The historian collects them, reads them, tries with some effort to weigh the authenticity and the truthfulness. After what, and after that only, he implements them. There is only a misfortune: no any historian, ever proceeded like that. Even when of adventure he imagines to make it.

« Because texts, or archaeological documents, was it seemingly the most clear and the most complaisant. But they speak only when we know how to question them. Before Butcher de Perthes, flints abounded, as nowadays, in the alluviums of the Somme. But the examiner missed its and there was no prehistory. Old medievalist, I admit to know hardly reading more attractive than a cartulary. It is because I know about what to ask her. A collection of Roman inscriptions, on the other hand, says to me little. I know so-so how to read them, not seeking them. In other words, any historic research supposes, from its first steps, that the inquiry already has a direction. In the beginning is the spirit. Never in a science, a passive observation gave nothing of fertile. To suppose, moreover, that it is possible. »[1]

An example: for a long time we see an apple falling, but it is necessary to wait for Newton (1642-1727), to set forth the law of the Gravitation.

Moreover in the common life, the activities of a person are always made in a more or less precise purpose. The historians also always write something in a more or less well determined purpose.

We reproduce again what wrote Marc Block: « In the beginning, they would say gladly, are documents. The historian collects them, reads them, tries hard to weigh the authenticity and the truthfulness. After what, and after what only, he implements them. There is only a misfortune: no any historian, ever proceeded like that. Even when of adventure he imagines to make it. »

So, want to write the history of Cambodia by taking into consideration only from documents already existing on our country is it a means to make our knowledge advancing on the past of our country? Marc Block asserts even: « no any historian, ever proceeded like that. »

We are not historians by profession, but we raise questions on the history of our neighbors and by extension on the history of the world on questions relating to our past, as for example the upheavals since the European arrived in our region. So, with our weak means we found elements of answers concerning the superiority of our neighbors since the beginning of the XVI th century. We diffused in our previous articles of texts concerning of the Portuguese contributions to Burma then to Ayuthia which was a commercial harbors accessible to the European boats of that time.

Before reproducing an excerpt of the Conference of Louis Malleret, we would like to mention that already a French, Pere Ponchaud, has already criticized this period of history.

About the importance of our national language, Pere François Ponchaud, in his " Report of Mission in Cambodia, from 16 till 27 September 1990 », wrote in the conclusion, at page 9:

« It is advisable to the Church (Catholic) to show itself watchful (alert) not to repeat certain errors of the past, while at the end of the XIX th and the beginning of the XX th century, and in another context, the Church, being inspired by colonial plans, favored the vietnamese settling in Cambodia. It was worth to her of being considered by Cambodians as doubling foreigner, and by her previous history and by her communities. The Khmer evangelization was therefore, compromised during almost century.

« While the Church of Cambodia is reborn of its hardship, with the fragility which we know, while it has the opportunity and the will to appear in the service of the Khmer people of Cambodia, an inconvenient and one-sided pastoral action with the immigrants whose presence is negatively seen by the public opinion, risk to burden heavily the chances of the Cambodian's evangelization. The pastoral action in Cambodia requires a caution and calls a coordination »

About the vietnamization of Cambodia, read also « The Vietnamese Community in Cambodia at the Time of the French Protectorate (1863 - 1953) », thesis of Khy Phanra, University of Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris III, on 1974, and « Cambodia and the French Colonization » by Alain Forest, Editon Harmattan, Paris 1980.

So the most important is not to take revenge to anyone, but to learn from the past in order to build properly the future of our nation. It is normal that Father Ponchaud does not forget, for him, the importance of the French language. It belongs to us to become aware of this fact.

We questioned catholic Cambodians. They say that at least with Pere Ponchaud their children can educate themselves in good conditions. Is it not a normal reaction ? Then when the university education will be in Cambodian language ?

We would like to mention that the Pere Ponchaud’s enterprise is made in the context where the Church in Cambodia recovers from Vatican. The vietnamese Church nowadays depends on Hanoi. That is why Hanoi is obliged to send priests of Saigon to make the mass at the vietnamese Catholics in Cambodia.

Excerpt of the Conference of L. Malleret on
In Bulletin de la Société des Etudes Indochinoises, tome XXI 1st semestre 1946, pages 12, 13, 14 :

« That some time, it happened to me, going through the provinces of Cochinchina by walk, on horseback, in cart or it sampan to accept the frank hospitality of the Cambodian pagodas. One hurried to bring me some coconuts to quench my thirst, whereas I offered in return sticks of incense or a tea bag. In the rest home of the hosts, one widened a mat and, when the air is pure and light, I do not feel more serene than that to lay down on the sieves of bamboo of these houses on pilotis, whereas the bigwigs in saffron dress pass silently in the walkyard and whereas a roguish wind murmurs, in the high bundles of coconut palms.

« But often, I arrived at one o'clock when the school of the pagoda noised of the young children rustle and it leads me quite naturally, to evoke here, the education problem settling under a grave aspect, for the Cambodian minority of Cochinchina. This one forms a homogeneous group, by her language, her religion, her customs, her traditions. Attached to protect her manners, she feels reluctant to send her children to the French-annamite schools because of French-Khmer schools has only very rarely.

« We tried up to here, to resolve the difficulty by favoring the development of the traditional education, in the pagoda schools. These are three types. Some are independent and, therefore, escape completely of our control. We counted 95 in 1944, grouping 1 038 pupils. Others are subsidized. There were 20, at the beginning of 1945, with 571 pupils. Finally, for fifteen years, we attempted to multiply the number of the pagoda schools said “renewed”, where the education is given by bigwigs, who followed a perfection training, in Phnom Penh, Tra-vinh or Soc-Trang and that one try hard to advise, as much as it allows, the right of glance that one can usurp, on establishments of almost exclusively religious character. The number of the schools of this type increased from 37, in 1930, to 90 in 1936, and to 209 in 1944, among which we counted 1093 girls, up to here traditionally pushed aside from profiting of the instruction. In the same time, the number of the French-Khmer official schools did not exceed the number of 19, with only 30 teachers.

« There is there a problem which hold attention. Whatever is the attention brought to the training of the bigwigs-schoolteachers, the creation of the pagoda schools, even were “renewed”, is only a means, which would not know how to replace a normal type of two cycle education. The one elementary, where the vehicle of the education which can remain in Cambodian, the other one additional with initiation into French. But we collide with the difficult question of recruiting the schoolteachers. For the school penetration, in the Cambodian countries, all the begun efforts are paralyzed by this numeric and qualitative shortage of the staff. I shall still move thus here, a wish in favor of the Cambodians in Cochinchina. It is because the number of the elementary and complementary French-Khmer schools is quickly increased, so as to form Cambodians with qualify certificate from school, capable, some to become auxiliary schoolteachers, the others to supply a first contingent of pupils-teachers, in teachers' pedagogic training, to whom it will be necessary to return, if we intend to break certainly with the policy of primary education in discount, which was happened in Indochina, since the economic crisis of 1929-1933.

This problem affects not only the primary academic standard to which it is entitled, in the obligation to grant to the Cambodian child of Cochinchina. It contains also the grave question of an elite recruitment. In the Khmer minority of the lower-Mekong, as well as in the whole of Cambodia, fact shown to the observer, is that this society is deprived totally of the ruling class except the clergy. In the old Khmer Kingdom, it is often Annamites who provide the civil servants contingent of the administration
[2]. The vietnamese also occupy the liberal occupations, and this situation, the Cambodians who are the first ones to be alarmed, but without serious reaction, seems to be in the same situation since previous history. It is remarkable, indeed, that the decline of this country coincided with the time when occurred in India, during the Moslem invasions. From the moment when Cambodia was deprived of the rule and framework brought by brahmanes, it seems that the situation began to decline[3]. There are some reasons for thinking that the principal reasons causing to stop an elite recruitment, produced the same effects, in the former Fou-Nan, and one saw the Siameses opposing more recently, in the recovery of the Cambodian nation, by massacring ruling classes during their raids, or by taking them in captivity.

« What so ever it happens, the urgent work, the necessary work, is to grant to the Cambodian minority of Cochinchina, the means to protect her personality, while creating for her, schools, and especially by breaking with the custom of the adequate portion, consisting to pay Cambodian municipal schoolteachers, derisory salaries, as it was the case in Cochinchina, in 1943, when the teachers recruited with great difficulty, received for the price of their professional activity, including charges and reparations, twenty one piastre a month

« The problem of the school penetration, in this minority, is not the only one which deserves to require our willingness. But it is of a major importance, because all the others derive from ignorance where the Khmer farmer is on his rights. Very attached to her land, without army to defend her patrimony, and often becomes the victim of incredible despoliations. Her bigwigs who are her natural guardians and who maintained them in the way of a magnificent moral elevation, remain strictly attached to the tradition and without lights on the obligations and the rigours of the modern existence. The "achars", respected old men whom one consult in difficult occasions, them either, are a very nice people attached to the speaking custom, and divested of resources, in front of the merciless necessities of a social organization, where the good faith of the weak is exposed to the hard assaults.

« The contact of two populations, the one active and enterprising, the other apathetic person and the traditionalist, brings daily abuses, which our country would not know how to cover with its indifference, and seems rising, primarily, of the mission of federal arbitrage which is devolved to her in Indochina. I know a conglomeration of Long-xuyen province, where the fusion of the Cambodian village with an annamite village, measures decided without precaution by the authority, had for result to dispossess completely, the first one (Cambodian village) of its municipal lands, for the benefit of the second (annamite village) which was poor, in such a way that the school of this one (village annamite) became prosperous, whereas the school of that one (Cambodian village) vegetates henceforth, for lack of resources
[5]. I shall also quote, a Cambodian hamlet of the province of Rach-gia, settled far away from roads and canals, where the inhabitants knew one day, by me, with bewilderment, that they were not any more owners of their lands of house, these having been incorporated into the Public domain, because having no regular title or not having been informed about the meaning of the demarcation operations, they had not appeared in front of the cadastral committees[6].

« Is it necessary to wonder if, in front of what they consider as arbitrary measures, the Cambodians abandon, sometimes en masse, certain villages, to flee the injustice and the despoliation. The annamite Creditors or Chinese make sign by illiterate Khmer farmers, leonine acts which succeed, in brief term, in the total dispossession of the debtor. The evil had become so obvious, and the wear and tear so usual of similar expropriations, that the French administration had to become alarmed of it. In 1937, the visa of the recording was declared compulsory for the notes of debts, with joint signature of the debtor and the creditor. In Tra-vinh, it seemed even necessary, to require their presence, during the registration of the mortgages on land registers.

« It would be desirable, in another respect, that those were widened or strengthened, certain measures taken on the eve of the war, by the French authority notably who prescribed that, in the mixed villages, the Khmer element is represented by a number of notables, proportional in her importance, or still, the one who established an auxiliary officer of family-status, in the villages with the great majority Cambodian. But these measures could become completely effective, that only if the then notables appointed took part, under certain conditions and according to the numeric importance of the minority, among the most considerable of the municipal council members.

« It is also important, that the Cambodian element has the place which returns to her in the body of the elected members, whatever level they are established. One had proposed, about twenty years back, that the autonomous cantons, recovering directly from the superior authority, were organized, where the minority appear in trainings enough compact (in number) to justify this measure. But one can also conceive that the name of Khmer canton leaders is obliged to declare, in the regions where the ethnic group is dominating, with the canton vice-leaders, where it does not detain the majority. Anyway, it is necessary that the Cambodians recover from civil servants or from councilors speaking their language. And that, in the administrative competitions, certain places is reserved for the candidates for the public services, with temporarily title, the special conditions. It seems indispensable that the Cambodian language is officially admitted, in the staff writing of the requests or the administrative correspondence. Finally, one can only wish the development of the office of the Cambodian cases, which had been created on the eve of the war, with the cabinet of the Governor.

« Cambodians are called to take a certain numeric importance in Cochinchina. Far from being in recession, their number increases in every census. In 1888, they were 150 000 on 1 600 000 inhabitants. In 1925, they had become 300 000. On the eve of the war, we counted approximately 350 000, on a global population of less than 5 million inhabitants. Their relations with the Chinese are excellent, and we count numerous Sino-Cambodian half-bloods who, remarkable fact, adopt gladly the customs of the mother, what is rarely the case of the half-bloods sino-annamites. The Khmers of Cochinchina maintain generally with Annamites the divested of sympathy relations. These call them with condescension, “Tho”, that is the “men of the land”, but Cambodians make contempt for contempt, by treating the others of “Yuon”, as the sanskrit “Yuvana”, that is of “Barbarian of the North”
[7]. It is certain that these hostilities, based on incompatibilities of customs, language, religion and also, on all the bitterness of former dispossessions, have the effect of provoking a kind of latent friction, harmful to the social peace, and which demands the control of an arbitrator.

« In this regard, Cochinchina appears par excellence, as a federal territory, where pathetic France for weak and generous to loyal subjects, has to prevail solutions of justice and to restore the balance tending to destroy in the world, coarse selection of the strongest. It is up to her to attribute to the Cambodian minority of the lower-Mekong, a political status which was never clearly defined to protect her rights by administrative measures, to maintain her cultural originality, to protect especially her real-estate fortune, patrimony which diminishes gradually every day, by the effect of incredible abuses. I add that our country would not know how to lose interest either, of the moral condition of these populations. The Cambodian minority of Cochinchina traditionally leaned on the Buddhism of the South, whereas Annam adopted the Buddhism of the North. It belongs to France, old Christian and liberal nation, become by Africa, Moslem metropolis, to become for the Southeast Asia, a Buddhist metropolis. It is not any more the secret, that Japan had tried to organize the sects of the Buddhism in Indochina in its profit, and that Siam pursued the same purposes for a long time in Cambodia, for territorial expansion reasons. The Cambodian bigwigs of Cochinchina are placed in the brilliance of the Buddhist Institute of Phnom Penh. Also having ties in Laos, the institute of federal character, the development of which is desirable and the importance would not be underestimated. »


Nowadays in Cambodia Vietnam is not vietnamising Cambodia by making everything to hinder the Cambodian language development by all means and supporting by major powers interests ? China thinks only of developing the education in Chinese language, the United States and the others think only of developing the education in English language, France thinks only of developing the education in French language, Japan thinks only of developing the education in Japanese language.

Now Cambodia needs to form as fast as possible thousands, even dozens thousand high-level engineers, dozens thousands, even hundreds of thousand technicians well formed by any level. It is thus necessary to be able to select them most widely possible. It is thus necessary to take a particular care in the education in national language of primary classes up to the high-level universities while favoring the learning of a foreign language as the second language. It is what takes place in all the developed countries of the world and also at our eastern and western neighbors as well.

The Special Economic Zones (SEZ) has been raised. It is curious to notice that this SEZ is granted to private or foreign companies. On the other hand why some of these SEZ are curiously on our borders? This SEZ will need a big number of high-level engineers, high-level administrators, technicians of all levels. Are not the responsibles for these SEZ to take excuse of Cambodian lack of qualified personnel then recruiting of the Vietnamese staff in the East and the Thai staff on the West? Already Cambodians in the East learn the vietnamese and the thai on the West? Is not Cambodia becoming another Cochinchina? Vietnam is using the same strategy as France of colonial epoch for vietnamising Cochinchina ?

Are not the leaders of major powers big commercial travellers to sell products of their country ? Do not major powers dedicate enormous sums to develop the research and the high-technology industries ? The politic does not consist in making only politic. The perpetuity and the perennity of a nation resides in the development of her written culture enriched constantly by exchanging it with the other cultures and also by the development of her economy which is managed only by her own citizens. In brief, educated people are the base of the perpetuity of a nation. Educate People means when 10 % of the population are of university level and 50 % of the adult population buy at least one book a year. When will be the case of Cambodia?

Struggling politically against the vietnamese domination in Cambodia is very good. But is it enough ? Is not Hanoi vietnamizing Cambodia by slowing down the using of our language in the higher level education and forming only in driblets the engineers (25 a year) and the technicians in all branches and at all levels? And also by preventing the development of the Cambodian commercial and industrial companies and by not engaging first and foremost the Cambodian engineers and the technicians?

The Cambodian struggles to build middle class more and more numerous against the obstacles imposed by the current regime does not constitute also an important contribution for our national independence?

November 8th, 2006

Notes : Cet article est aussi disponible en français sur demande.
The notes from (1) to (7) are of Khemara Jati.
[1] « Apology for the History - Apologie pour l’Histoire » by Marc Bloch, (1886 shot by the Germans in 1944), Ed. Armand Colin, Paris 1974 pages 62–63.
[2] It is about the colonial administration in Cambodia.
[3] Unfortunaltely Malleret, referes to the Coedes thesis, the thesis refuted by B.-P. Groslier.
[4] We would have wished that Malleret also gives us the salary of the annamite teachers.
[5] It is necessary to underline that the French administration of Cochinchina was in the hands of Annamites. The decision of fusion of both villages was thus intended to end in the result noticed by Malleret. The text of Malleret is of 1946. How many such decisions were they taken since the beginning of the colonization ? Since 1860 ? There is still no investigation to know if Cambodians were minority in Cochinchina at the time when the Frenchmen arrived. Can we totally rely on the censuses made by the colonial authorities totally in the Annamite's hands ? On the other hand, since the 1860s, why the borders of Cochinchina moved inexorably westward to the detriment of Cambodia? We have testimonies saying that there was few Annamites in Saigon (“Saramani” by Roland Meyer, Edition Imprimerie Nouvelle Albert Portail, Saigon on 1919, page 39) and no single Annamite on the Koh Tral island at the beginning of the XXth century (“Komlah” by Roland Mayer, Edition Pierre Roger, Paris, Paris 1930, page 167). And also in: Mak Phœun in his article “The border between Cambodia and Vietnam of the XVIIth century the institution of the French protectorate, presented through the Khmer Royal Columns”, in “The Borders of Vietnam”, supervised by P.B. Lafont, Ed. Harmattan, Paris 1989, pages 136-155.
[6] The not French agents of the operations of demarcation, cadastral committees of the services of geography and the other technical services, were 100 % annamites, in Cochinchina and in Cambodia as well.
[7] Unfortunately, Malleret does not provide the reference of his assertion. Up to this day, there is no serious historic research on the previous history regarding the words Youn and Cochinchina for example. Nevertheless Youn comes from Yué or Viet. Vietnam = Yué of the South (nan = the South in Chinese). The Chinese always name their neighbour of the South: Youan-nan. The term “Cochinchina” appeared the first time on the map of the Indo-Chinese peninsula drawn up by the anonymous Portuguese by 1580; so on the map of “Eastern India” according to the Mercator map (1613), these two maps are in “Indochina” in 2 volumes of Georges Maspéro, Ed. G. Van Oest, in 1929; so in the China map, in the Atlas of Mercator published by Jocondus Hondius, Amsterdam, on 1606, The Stapleton Collection. On these three maps Cochinchina is in China of the South, in the North of Champa and Camboia.

Viêt-Nam Has Re-invaded Cambodia


Vietnam has re-invaded Cambodia

Khémara Jati
Montréal, Québec
November 04’ 04




April 26, 1990


To : Task Force Members
From : Vaughn Forrest, Chief of Staff
Re : Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos

The attached paper outline disturbing trends in South East Asia:

1. Contrary to press reports, Vietnam has re-invaded Cambodia with approximately 64,000 - 66,000 (PAVN) troops.

2. Contrary to press reports, Laos is occupied with approximately 23,000 - 32,000 Vietnamese (PAVN) forces.

3. There are increasing reports of the use by PAVN directed Pathet Lao units of chemical weapons against the Lao Non-Communist Resistance and civilian Lao population.

4. Vietnam has annexed significant parts of Cambodia.

This reports outline the trends in this region and identifies by unit the Vietnamese (PAVN) forces in both countries. A restricted access list as to the exact location of these forces is available to Members in a verbal briefing by calling this office.


It has become increasingly apparent that Vietnam is moving to consolidate its control over Laos and Cambodia despite the intensification of national liberation struggles against the vietnamese sponsored puppet regimes in those countries. Hanoi is committed to a long term solution in Southeast Asia based on an effectively unified region under Vietnam's control, despite that country's highly publicized, albeit phoney, withdrawal. At the present stage, the existence of local communist puppet regimes in Phnom Penh and Vientiane serves Hanoi's interests. Therefore, the Vietnamese Armed Forces, and the local forces they control, facilate the bolstering of their allies' regimes in key sectors of Cambodia and Laos.

Indeed, there are indications that Vietnam is moving toward the furthering of regional arrangement, with the PAVN near completion of an integrated regional command structure controlled from Hanoi. In the forward areas of Laos and Cambodia, this trend has been manifested in the establishment of combined units dominated by the Vietnamese, while several PAVN command structures disregard national boundaries. Taken together, these developments reflects Hanoi's commitment and determination to dominate Southeast Asia.

Furthermore, there is every indication that the USSR is in full support of the steps taken by Hanoi. Key military -organizational steps were accomplished with several Soviet military advisers and experts on site and largely on the basis of their knowledge. Further, there has been a corresponding increase in supplies of weapons from the USSR. Moreover, virtually all deliveries of such weapons have been conducted through Vietnam and under close Soviet-Vietnamese supervision, thus giving Hanoi effective control over the local Laotien and Cambodian regime and armed forces. The Soviets have further enhanced this situation by redeploying combat aircraft from Cam Ranh Bay to interior bases from which they can provide direct support to the PAVN-dominated units in combat actions in Laos and Cambodia.

Currently, after the brief period of constant movement brought about by the ostensible withdrawal of vietnamese forces from Cambodia, the deployment of Vietnamese forces has stabilized. At present, the Vietnamese continue to deploy forces in key strategic position and persistently expand their zones of control. Adopting Soviet-Cuban doctrine, these PAVN forces conduct Quality Edge measures operations. They bolster local units, that operate at times in their skirmishes and confrontations with a seeming PAVN quality, against national liberation forces. Further, invariably, the Vietnamese exercise a decisive impact on any given battle by holding key strategic positions and by delivering suppressive firepower, that is, artillery and airpower (including the use of chemical weapons), as well as by providing tactical mobility, largely by the landing of elite forces from helicopters at key points.

Thus, it is clear that the Vietnamese are committed to a long-term solution. In this context, their strategy is to confront and engage Laotian and Cambodian national liberation forces militarily only when necessary. Instead, the Vietnamese and their allies concentrate on controlling the regional strategic infrastructure and economic resources of key areas. By doing so, the Vietnamese are able to isolate the Resistance from its base of support in the civilian population. The isolation and alienation of the population is then further enhanced through the implementation of repressive measures, such as the use of suppression fire (including chemical weapons), that force the population into internal migration away from areas where the resistance could utilize its support and resources.

This Vietnamese strategy is virtually identical to that used by the USSR and Cuba in their local wars in the 1980s. The Soviet further refined this strategy in their 1980-1984 drive to consolidate their control over Afghanistan and to prevent the resistance from turning into an effective popular force. Indeed, since 1982, as result of this approach, the Afghan resistance has been rendered incapable of interfering with the USSR's consolidation and expansion of its strategic infrastructure of Afghanistan.

Similarly, by employing a derivative of the approach, the Cuban forces in Angola were able to seize the strategic initiative from UNITA. Indeed, since 1985, Cuban-MPLA forces have forced UNITA back into a succession of defensive battle around an ever shrinking bastion in south-eastern Angola.

Thus, Vietnamese dominated combat operation in Laos and Cambodia have seen the same principles and characteristics employed by the Soviet and the Cubans in other Third World locations. Below are outlined the specifics of Vietnamese operations in Laos and Cambodia:


Hanoi is implementing a comprehensive program to control and effectively annex Cambodia. To this end, the Vietnamese are conducting three distinct operations in Cambodia. These are:

1. In the Eastern provinces of Cambodia, the Vietnamese are moving to consolidate their direct control over the area to facilitate its evolution into an integral part of Vietnam's economy.

2. The Vietnamese Armed Forces are expanding their deployment in the periphery of Cambodia in order to block the penetration of liberation forces and to isolate them from the population.

3. The Vietnamese are securing the main population and national centers of Cambodia, as well as the lines of communication from Vietnam, thus making Phnom Penh completely dependent on Hanoi for its survival. The patterns of the Vietnamese deployment in Cambodia correspond to these objectives.

The current deployment of Vietnamese forces in Cambodia was accomplished in two phases. The first phase was accomplished during the "withdrawal" of late 1989. Major PAVN units, and a few subordinate subunits, were left behind in key strategic locations. Each of these subunits supervised a few RPKAP units with PAVN quality core elements and concealed caches of weapons and ammunitions in the countryside. Moreover, the 4 Vietnameses concentrations of force withdrawn from Cambodia remained just behind the border in 4 district force groupings, (From south to north: Front 479, Front 979, Front 779 and Front 579) with training facilities and munitions stockpiles, ready to return and intervene in Cambodia. The second phase involved the still continuing insertion of small units into Cambodia to consolidate positions and garrisons in key military installations. From there, the PAVN subunits, independently or with subordinate RPKAF subunits, deploy to small posts and garrison in the countryside, gradually expanding the area controlled by Hanoi and displacing the rural population.

In addition, Hanoi is expanding its strategic centers for regional intervention in the Laos - Cambodia - Thailand border area. For example, PAVN Naval infantry, subordinated to the F590 division on the Dao Phu Quoc Island (Vietnamese territory), deployed to control Cambodia's key harbours. (These regional activities are discussed in detail below.) The current deployment of PAVN forces and their RPKAF subordinates (excluding the annexed provinces and the regional intervention force) are control from a corps Headquarters in South-east Pursat province where 7,000 PAVN troops are deployed. In early March, 1990, the Corps Headquarters was in command of approximately 46,970 to 45,370 PAVN troops. (This total does NOT include the multiple small PAVN garrisons and caches spread all over rural Cambodia.) Further, Cambodian resistance source claimed in mid-April, 1990 that a total of some 30,000 PAVN troops have been inserted into Cambodia since the "withdrawal", that is, approximately 9,500 to 10,000 Vietnamese troops have been inserted since early March. Because independent verification of the whereabouts of some of these forces is still lacking, they are not included in the above count.

The part of Cambodia dominated by the Corps are divided into two strategic echelons (S.E.): The Western command is the 1st S.E., which is divided into two Fronts. The northern Front is devoted to dealing with the freedom fighters operating from Thailand. The southern Front is devoted to securing the main lines of communication from southern Vietnam and the Cambodian shore line. The 2nd S.E. is the Eastern command which is devoted to controlling the Cambodian interior and especially ground and river transportation.

This command structure remained intact even during the height of the Vietnamese "withdrawal". Indeed, the Corps Headquarters and its approximately 7,000 troupes remained inside Cambodia well into late 1989, with control of the northern Front on the 1st S.E. accomplished by two "stay-behind" PAVN Regiments (1,200 and 3,000 troops respectively.) These regiments, in return, controlled 3 RPKAF divisions (286th, 5th and 81th) with PAVN core elements, as well as 2 RPKAF divisions (196th & 4th) with only PAVN special forces elements, all deployed along the Thai border.

The control of the southern Front of the 1st S.E. was accomplished through a single security). This regiment also controlled 2 RPKAF division with PAVN core elements deployed along the Tonle River. During the "withdrawal", the control of the 2nd S.E. was accomplished through 2 PAVN Regiments (3,000 troops each) in the eastern Kompong Cham province near the Vietnamese border. A RPKAF division with a PAVN core unit in the centre of the province was subordinated to this force. All together, approximately 27,060 troops remained in this deployment in Cambodia when the "withdrawal" was completed.

The expansion and bolstering of this deployment began in October, 1989 and is still in progress. At first, the PAVN deployment in the southern Front of the 1st S.E. was significantly reinforced. With the main lines of communication secured, forward forces of the northern Front of the 1st S.E. were reinforced. Then, the Vietnamese gradually built their garrisons near Phnom Penh and in Kompong Thom where a 1,560 troops strong PAVN Regiment was established to secure traffic to the north. Further, several PAVN battalions and companies are still in Cambodia, bolstering and expanding the PAVN deployment. Naval Infantry Battalions of the F590 Division on Dao Phu Quoc Island were landed in Kampot (1000 troops) and Thmar Sar (450 troops). Ultimately, a total of approximately 18,310 to 18,610 PAVN troops were inserted into these parts of Cambodia between 1st October, 1989 and 2nd March, 1990.

These PAVN and PAVN-controlled RPKAF forces continue to expand the areas covered by their operations. The main direction of advance and build-up being aimed at disconnecting the axes of penetration and advance into the interior of the Cambodian liberation forces. Offensive sweeps continue to be conducted in the border area in order to weaken the freedom fighters and stall their advance into the interior. Simultaneously, the civilian population is being suppressed by Vietnamese artillery and air power and is thus being pushed away from the key lines of communication into the deep interior so that is cannot link-up with, and thus support, the freedom fighters. The cumulative impact of the stalling of the freedom fighters and the induced internal migration has been to hasten the collapse of the popular support mechanism so crucial for the establishment of an effective liberation movement. The effectiveness of these PAVN offensive sweep operations is significantly enhanced by the supply of Soviet weapons that is being provided through Vietnam. Most important is the supply of 4 Mi-17 assault helicopters that doubled the force of 4 older Mi-8s that had originally made up the RPKAF arsenal. In addition, the Soviets also supplied through Vietnam large quantities of artillery, rocket and small arm ammunition.

In the meantime, Soviet and Vietnamese advisers continue to supervise the build-up and organization of highly mobile PAVN-RPKAF subunits for the conduct of offensive sweeps against both the population and the liberation forces. Hun Sen stated in mid-April and the rejuvenated RPKAF forces were "moving into the offensive" in the Pailin area. An indication of the potential of these offensive sweeps was the limited. Yet well organized and planned, offensive against the KPNLF of February, 1990.

This offensive sweep resulted in the capture of the Svay Chek strategic town west of Battambang. The offensive relied on advance suppression by fire, mainly BM-14 and BM-21 MBRLs, followed by a swift attack by a motor-mechanized force in trucks and a few BTR-60s spearheaded by T-55 and T-54 tanks. This offensive sweep was organized and supervised by Soviet and Vietnamese advisers.

General Pan Thai of the KPNLAF attributed the success of the PAVN-RPKAF artillery forces in fighting in Svay Chek and Thmar Puok to a special PAVN Artillery unit identified as the 106th Regiment. A Captain Nguyen Van Tin of this regiment, who was captured by the KPNLAF, disclosed that his unit was 1,300 troops strong. They were deployed to Cambodia in December, 1989 "to supervise artillery units of the Phnom Penh army in Sisophon, Svay Chek and Phnum Srok."

Further, the tactics and force structure used during the Svay Chek offensive sweep closely resembled past Soviet-style operation in Afghanistan and Angola (see Below). The emphasis is on the suppression of the population an its isolation from popular forces. Swift decisive assaults relying on suppressive fire power and shock engagements with the resistance forces are intended only to stall and compel a withdrawal, rather than hold vast territories.

By this strategy, Vietnam has managed to consolidate control over key Cambodian territory, effectively annexing 3 provinces and altering the border in the other zones. At the same time, in the southern provinces, the Vietnames complotted a 550 km long canal stretching from Kep - Ha Tien on the Gulf of Thailand to Chipou. The canal is 25 meters wide and runs some 4-5 kms into Cambodian territory. Vietnam has since annexed this stretch of land, while in the eastern provinces, a new border line was established from Chipou to the Bo Duc area along controlling heights and main roads, and was annexed by Vietnam as well.

Of even greater significance is the effective annexation of Cambodia's eastern provinces of Mondolkiri, Rattanakiri and Stung Treng (east of Mekong River). The annexation was accomplished through a massive resettlement of some 400,000 to 950,000 Vietnamese who have their own 100,000-man militia. The Vietnamese settlers exploited local gold mines, cleared age-old forests and forbade Cambodian authorities from entering into the area. The adminstration of the area is coordinated by the F7579 Corps Headquarters east of Lumphat, which three PAVN internal security regiments (the 5501st, 5502nd and 5503rd) in effective control of the area. Three additional PAVN subunits - battalions to regiment in size - are also garrisoned in these provinces. This entire Vietnamese deployment stayed behind during the "withdrawal" and is now backed by the forces of Front 579 deployed just across the Vietnamese border.

LAOS (...)


Most significant is the PAVN-dominated multi-national forces being organized near the Laos - Cambodia - Thailand border area. The core of this force is two PAVN Divisions. In Cambodia is the PAVN F315 Division in northern Preah Vihear Province, (The 7,000 PAVN troops left behind during the “withdrawal” were reinforced by 2,200 additional troops by the end of 1989.) and just north of Laotian border are 4,000 troops of the PAVN F2 Division, supported by an independent PAVN regiment slightly to the north. These Vietnamese units serve as a quality edge element for Cambodian and Laotian formations built and trained around them. These combined forces undergo extensive advance training and are supervised by Soviet advisers and experts. Reportedly, some of the locally based elite PAVN forces were sent in late-November, 1989 to reinforce the fighting on route 10 between Battambang and Pailin. These Vietnamese troops were dressed in RPKAF uniforms.

In the meantime, another multi-national elite "Independence Division" is being trained by the Vietnamese in southeastern Mondolkiri province in an area held by the 5501st and 5503rd PAVN regiments. These troops are dressed in unique “para” uniforms and use a special Khmer flag. Soviet advisers are also reported to be active in this training area. Once combat ready, the “Independence Division” is expected to deploy to the Laos - Cambodia - Thailand border area.

The USSR is deeply involved in these operations beyond simply providing advisers among the PAVN-dominated fighting units and the on-going massive resupply of weapons and ammunition. Most important has been the use of Soviet combat aircraft, mainly MIG-23s, for bombing in Laos, including the use of chemical weapons. While claiming to be withdrawing from their most visible bases such as Cam Ranh Bay, the Soviet continue to intensify their presence through back-door relations. Since late-1989, the USSR has been consolidating a web of military ties that will hold all "local forces" together, as well as keep them dependent on each other and on the USSR, even after the Soviet's overt presence is somewhat reduced.

The reorganization of the PAVN-RPKAF forces in mobile and armoured motor-mechanized units as well as the growing use of assault helicopters in Cambodia and Laos reflect the extent of the Soviet military involvement in local fighting. The PAVN-RPKAF motor-mechanized units are a direct evolution of Soviet-Cuban developments in counter-insurgency tactics proven throughout the Third World.

In 1975, the Soviet combined-arms forward detachment (OGPZ) was developed by the Cuban General Arnaldo Ochoa Sanchez into a highly mobile subunit optimized for operation in lesser developed countries. Central Ochoa, subsequently employed these units effectively in Angola. These basic Cuban-Angolan subunits, including the subsequent integration of helicopters, were further refined in the offensives against UNITA in Angola.

In the early 1980s, the Soviet-Cuban counterinsurgency subunits underwent additional tactical refinements on the basis of the Soviet experience in Afghanistan. Combat lessons were then integrated into the Cuban solution optimized for the Third World. In 1983, these refinded units were used by Gen. Ochoa as a basis for Nicaragua's Special Counter-Insurgency Battalions (BTL), trained and equipped to fight the Contras.

The accumulating combat experience and expertise in counterinsurgency operations in tropical and jungle-mountainous theatres were generalized in 1985 by Gen. Krivda of the Soviet General Staff into the concept of "Cluster Forces", the key to Soviet intervention forces. The modernization and optimization of counterinsurgency forces for lesser developed countries has since been based on the "Cluster Forces" principle. Such forces are currently used in Angola against Jonas Savimbi. The current PAVN-RPKAF tactics and the equipment recently delivered to both Lao and Cambodia fit closely with the requirements for such "Cluster Forces."

Thus, the dissemination of the USSR's latest tactical solutions for Counterinsurgency operations reflects Moscow's long-term commitment to the success of Hanoi's regional grand design.

- by Yossef Bodansky
& Vaughn S. Forrest
April 25, 1990


This report is object of an article in the New York City Tribune of May 8th, 1990.

To understand the revolution of the USA’s strategy in South-East Asia, here is a short chronology of the events in 1989-1990.

§ 9 November 1989 : Falling of the Berlin Wall.

§ 26 April 1990 : Report of the House of Representatives of the USA which we have produced some extracts above.

§ 18 July 1990 : Returning of Moscow, James Baker, the Secretary of State of the USA, declines to support the Coalition of Democratic Kampuchea government any more.

§ 16 au 27 septembre 1990 : Mission of François Ponchaud in Cambodia. In the report he writes:

" When arriving in Cambodia, I did not try to meet the Vietnamese catholic communities of Cambodia, otherwise the small group of Moat Krasas. I however accompanied two American priests who went to Kompong Chhnang to celebrate the Vietnamese mass there. A small community of hundred persons gathered on the terrace of a market building, dressed in the colours of Vatican. The priests usually celebrate in American, with translation into vietnamese. I was invited in the meal which followed the mass: all the male participants of these feasts were members of the Association (politics) of the Vietnamese Residents of Cambodia, and no mystery they all links united together to the embassy (from Vietnam in Phnom Penh). "

About the presence of the Vietnamese in this city, Ponchaud writes: " At Kompong Chhnang, at the " upper market ", it is necessary to have good glasses to describe Khmers ! ".

So the report of the House of the US Representatives describes exactly the real intentions of Hanoï in the region. But the geostrategic interests of the United States of America deserve the relation with Vietnam. Does the USA have the means of its policy ? It belongs to the Cambodian people in the city as well as in the countryside to demonstrate their will of fighting against the vietnamese dominion and oblige the USA to revise its policy in Cambodia.


Posted by Khemara Jati
Note : Cet article est disponible aussi en français sur demande.

How To Liberate Cambodia ? (4)



Khemara Jati
Montréal, Québec
Le 28 octobre 2006

Les erreurs de nos hommes politiques.

We have given our opinion in the text above with the points described above. We would try to examine the past activities of our political responsible. It will be the object of our next article.

a/. For the relations between France and Vietnam, it is interesting to refer to « History of Indochina, Pearl of the Empire on 1624 - 1954 » by Philippe Héduy, Ed. Albin Michel, Paris 1998.

b/. For the relations between the Siam and the Europeans refer to the article in:

We reproduce below a passage of the article entitled :

« The arrival of the Portuguese

« In 1491, Ramathibodi II (r. 1491 - 1529) one of the sons of Borom Trailokanat rose on the throne. He had to take actions to improve the army, base it on a compulsory duty following the continual conflicts with Burma.

« It is with him that we have to opening the relations with Europe. In 1498, Vasco de Gama (Portuguese), having crossed the Cap of Good Hope and having crossed the Indian Ocean, reached finally Calicut, a city on the Malaba’s coast in India, where he made wide profits in the business.

« This discover had to encourage his fellow countrymen to go towards this country, where they got organized to obtain a territory where cities are establishing. Goa became their headquarters under the responsibility of a Vice-King. They dashed eastward in search of oriental wealth’s such as spices, silk and porcelain.

« In 1511, Alfonso d'Albuquerque attacked Malacca, and sailed towards Siam. Received in audience by king Ramathibodi II, a treaty was signed (the first treaty between Siam and a western State) granting to the Portuguese the right to live, to trade in the inside of the country in exchange for artillery and ammunitions.

« And Portuguese hirelings participated then in the military campaigns against Chiang Mai and taught Thais the art to produce artillery and to use muskets. Nevertheless, Thais was not able to oppose to the increasing Burmese pressure. The King of Pégou, Tabinshwéti, in the head of a recently unified Burmese empire, had fixed one's choice upon Ayutthaya weakened by wars against Chiang Mai.

« Nine years after the Ramathibodi II death, in 1529, Ayutthaya was implied, for the first time, in a war with Burma. This had to drive to three successive wars in 1538, 1548 and 1569, with for result the fall of Ayutthaya.

« In 1549, when Tabinshwéti attacked, Mahachakkraphat just came to rise on the throne. The Burmese having layed siege to its capital, Mahachakkraphat tempted on going out. His sons, his wife, his daughter accompanied him, taken up on elephants. The history preserved the heroism souvenir of queen Sri Suriyothai. Dressed in warrior, she threw her frame between the king and his enemy, when she saw her husband in danger; she saved her husband but was killed. The chedi containing the queen's ashes is always visible at Ayutthaya.

« The Burmese invasion in 1549 was condemned for the defeat. The Tabinshwéti's army withdrew and Mahachakkraphat began to strengthen the defences of his royaume by means of the Portuguese. Three hundred wild elephants were captured and raised with the aim of possible wars against Burma.

« Seven of these new elephants were white. Now buddhist Kings of the Southeast Asia always loved the white elephants. Considered as auspicious animals, indispensable to the royal prestige and to the prosperity of the country. When this short story reached Burmese King Bayinnaung, he gave the signal of a new invasion in 1564. Ayutthaya was definitively overcome in 1569 and the Burmese plundered the city from top to bottom; they deported his population en masse towards Burma. Mahachakkraphat was among the captives: he died before arriving at Pégou. »

Ayutthaya, from the restoration of the independence to the end of the period of influence.

Ayutthaya was under the cup of Burma during fifteen years with king Maha Thammaracha governing the country under the supervision of the Burmese civil servants.

Maha Thammaracha, main deputy of the defeated king, was in charge by Bayinnaung of governing Siam henceforth vassalisé. His elder son, Narésuan, was taken as hostage to Burma and trained up as a Burmese prince by king Bayinnaung . At the age of fifteen, Narésuan returned to Siam, with his young brother Ekatotsarot, began immediately to muster fighters.

During his young years, Narésuan had been able to observe the Burmese army and study its strategy. He trained his troops in the guerrilla warfare; their tactics of fast attack followed by falling back was worth to them the nickname of " Wild Tigers " and of « Cats on the watch ».

Revolts in the States Shans and at Ava held the young Nandabayin, the sovereign person, in his royaume then Naresuan took advantage of this situation declaring, in 1584, Ayutthaya independent from the Burmese yoke.

This declaration of independence of Siam was made in the city called Kraeng, in May 1584, while he was supposed to command a thai contingent to help to stop the rebellion. During nine following years, the Burmese tried several times to overcome Siam again, but Narésuan had taken all the necessary defensive measures and pushed the invasions away. In 1593, on the occasion of one of them, he killed, at Nong Sa Rai near Suphan Buri, the Burmese crown prince, in single combat on the back of elephant. When his father passed away, in 1590, Naresuan assumed all the monarchy and re-strengthened Siam.

In the conflict with Burma, he turned the situation in his favour and imposed in 1594 his suzerainty to the King of Cambodia and to certain shans princes. He tried twice to conquer Burma but in vain.

Under Naresuan the great, Ayutthaya knew a prosperity moment as shown the descriptions made by the Europeans visiting the metropolis in XVIIth century. Indeed, during the reign of Naresuan the great, the Spaniards, after the Portuguese, began trades with Ayutthaya.

After having solved the problems with Filipinos by chosing Manilla as their capital in 1571, they expand territories over the nearby countries.

In 1598, Don Tello de Aguirre left Manilla for a diplomatic mission to Ayutthaya. This embassy had to lead to the signature of friendship and business treaty with Siam. The terms of the treaty were similar to those of the treaty from Portugal in 1516.

The Burmese attacked Siameses first because they had acquired firearms sold by the Portuguese, before Ayutthaya:

“The European presence in Ayutthaya simply fed into this continuing process of state development, mainly due to the military technology they introduced at a time when Ayutthayan kings were attempting to assert their superiority over often reluctant vassals. In a climate where military organization was receiving closer attention, European weapons were attractive because they could be effectively combined with traditional fighting methods to give the possessor a distinct advantage, even if it was simply to inspire terror through the noise of explosives. Thus a contract made with Ramathibodi in 1518 allowed the Portuguese to trade in Ayutthaya, Ligor, Tenasserim and Pattani in return for guns and war munitions, and a number of Portuguese mercenaries were attached to the Ayutthayan army.

“However, it was in Burma where European military technology apparently had its greatest appeal, and may have made a measurable contribution to the resurgence of Burman strength. The founders of a new dynasty originating from Toungoo, Tabinshwehti (r.1531-50) and his successor Bayinnaung (r. 1551-81), aimed from the outset to recreate a centralized state in the Irrawaddy basin, and the advent of the Europeans was thus timely. Experts in gunnery were recruited into royal service, and during successful attacks on the Mon capital of Pegu in the late 1530s and on Martaban in the 1540s several hundred Portuguese mercenaries were reportedly deployed. While it would be wrong to overestimate the effects of European firearms, local chronicles speak with awe of the ‘great guns’ by which Tabinshwehti could ‘smash the [Shan] saw-dwas’ warboats to splinters’ since they ‘had no cannon or large mortars’. By the late 1550s he even defeated Chiengmai, which had successfully resisted the armies of Ayutthaya eleven years earlier. So impressive were his victories that one eminent Thai prince, the viceroy of the northern provinces, was ever willing to attach himself to this seemingly invincible conqueror. Besieged by Bayinnaung’s army, Ayutthaya fell in August 1569 and by 1574 Vientiane in Lan Sang was also in Burman hand. For the first time in history Burman rulers had been able to subdue the ‘great arc of Thai-speaking people’, and from Chiengmai to Ayutthaya splendid new pagodas built at Bayinnaung’s direction proclaimed the power of the king whom the Mons referred to in awe as the ‘Victor of the Ten Directions’.”[1]

So the Burmese overcame the Siameses because they had acquired firearms, sold by the Portuguese before Ayutthaya, more they are helped by hundreds of Portuguese hirelings. The Portuguese interest was to sell firearms and gain some money. Then the Portuguese sold weapons to the Burmese and to the Siameses as well. So was not Portuguese arbitrators of the wars between Burma and Siam? Then how about Cambodians during that period ?

Let us remind that the Siameses plundered Angkor in 1431 taking with them all the wealth of the city among which two monumental bronze statues and deported almost totality of our intellectuals. Let us note that Angkor was the only civilization of the Southeast Asia to produce bronze monumental works. Certain statues measure 6 metres high.[2]

« For the statuary, the novelty is great, concerning the technique as well as the sources of inspiration. In the technique's field, the most striking fact is the importance, until now unsuspected, of a monumental art of the bronze combining to the resources of a traditional profession by the evident progress. For the inspiration, the exceptional quality of the relief reveals that the artists were not only the official portrait painters whom have had already recognized. Fascinated for the alive forms which they observed with an unexpected acuteness, they interpreted the most classic subjects with originality, a personality which we shall find at no other moment in the Southeast Asia. » (Page 334).

During the Ayutthaya's plundering in 1569, the Burmese brought with them an enormous booty among which two Angkor monumental statues found nowadays in the pagoda Arakan (Burma).

The battle of Longvêk took place in 1595 not in 1594, date supplied by Bottu above. According to the document above, the Siamese armies acquired a strong military training in their fights against the Burmese's army. Then the Siameses know perfectly of using the armies bought from the Portuguese, including the artillery. Moreover our ancestors bequeathed us a legend where they was mentioned that the Siameses « fired silver shots ». It would be interesting to interpret this legend in the light of the information above. About the presence of some three or four Portuguese hirelings with some firearms of the Cambodian side, refer to the book of Bernard Philippe Groslier « Angkor and Cambodia in the XVIth century, according to the Portuguese and Spanish sources » University Press of France, Paris 1958. Is the intervention of the Portuguese in our region unimportant in our defeat at Longvêk?

Should not we rewrite our history in the light of this new information?

Note : Cet article est disponible en français sur demande.

[1] Excerpt from « The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia » Volume One, Part Two, from c. 1500 to c. 1800, edited by Nicholas Tarling, Cambridge University Press, 1992, 1999, page 71 and 72.
[2] « Notes of the Bronze Art in the Ancient Cambodia » by Jean Boisselier, in Artibus Asiae, vol. XXIX, 1967, n° 4, pages 275 to 334

How To Liberate Cambodia ? (3)



Khemara Jati
Montréal, Québec
Le 25 octobre 2006

The multiform struggles of our fellow countrymen in Cambodia

First : The cultural policy

One knows now that the national cultural identity of a country lies in the development of its writing culture[1]. The colonial power has vietnamised Cochinchina by using only french and vietnamese languages in the administration and by implementing primary and secondary modern teachings in the vietnamese only. Cambodians of Cochinchina are allowed only to pagoda schools, even "converted”.[2]

Concerning our politicians, why only few of them surrounded or have company by intellectuals of high levels ? Only Europe bequeathed that by its traditions since the highest antiquity. However, let us mention two exceptions:

§ Son Ngoc Than had the life safe, because he was arrested by the Frenchmen with the complicity of the English. The English did not want to have a prisoner's blood in their hand. But his private secretary was a bilingual intellectual named Huot Sovan, elder brother of Huot Sambath, son of the doctor Huot, « accused of collaborating with the Japanese, was interned in barracks beyond Phnom Penh and tortured to death by the Welsh commander.»[3]

§ Sisowath Yutévong chose as private secretary Nou Hach, the author of classic « Phkar Srapaune », a real plea for the intellectuals. But the political life of Yutévong was too short.

Except for these two personalities, it seems that our politicians are afraid of intellectuals’ in particular patriotic intellectuals. Even nowadays. Except the increase of professor salary, no any politician worries of the textbook’s contents, the creation of an Institute for the historic research, the other one for the geographic research. No encouragement either for a new Cambodian language dictionary publication. Worse the prize-winners of the Scientific Olympiads Junior are not either honored etc[4].

During period from 1954 till 1970, the higher education was in French. Cambodian of the high society sent children to French secondary school Descartes. For them the cambodian language is a foreign language.

In these conditions how alphabetize quickly the whole people (to teach, to read and to write) ? How to form quickly a big number of high-level intellectuals like Malaysia as example ? Do not all the examples in the world show that educated people never live under a foreign domination ? Is it normal to educate the whole people in foreign language ?

Let us remind that during Sangkum, there were interesting publications, but all in French. As the “Etudes Cambodgiennes” papers for example. The political newspapers the most popular was “La Dépêche” directed by Chau Seng. In these conditions, how alphabetize quickly the whole people in the national language? Fortunately, the literature’s development in national language of a good level (Khemarak Yeankam) begins and the first dictionary of our language was published and supervised by Chuon Nath. There were well-learned scholars in national language as Achar Pang Khat for example. But nobody pays attention to them. A high-level, bilingual intellectual, Ieu Koeus, General Secretary of the Democratic Party, was murdered by “unknowns” in January 1950.

In one word, until 1970, there is only a handle of intellectuals' in an ocean of illiterates.

Nowadays, there is a development of books, newspapers, magazines in national language. The administrative language is in cambodian. In spite of all obstructions our language and our culture still develop, but slowly because there is not enough of national and international financial and political support. Let us note the efforts of our fellow countrymen in Cambodia and also the helps of the foreign personalities as Ingrid Muan, who was able to contribute to generate the foreign foundations as The Albert Kunstadrer Family Fuondation, The Japan Foundation Asia Center, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Toyota Foundation, for example. Cambodia own now modern printing offices with a staff capable of ruling them and if need they can repair them properly accordingly by themselves. Now Cambodia is capable of producing books almost in the same quality as those of the international one. On the other hand the publishers / editors and the booksellers gain some money and they can depend on that to live. It proves that the number of readers increases. But regrettably in the villages there are still very few people who can read. It is due to the medieval situation of our communication means. Japan modernizes only the communications between Saigon and Phnom Penh, to put Cambodia depending on Saigon, as during colonial period.

It is interesting to note that songs composed and chanted by our brothers of Surin reached our brothers of Kampuchea Krom, by way of Phnom Penh. Our brothers of Kampuchea Krom are fighting the DVD free to circulate, as well as the books and other cultural matters from Cambodia. So the solidarity between Cambodians of Cambodia with our brothers of Thailand and of the South-Vietnam becomes a reality with the development of the intellectual level of our people.

Also let us note that the Cambodian artists: singers, comedians, actors of cinema etc. also begin to gain some money by their profession. Of course there are Piseth Pilika and Touch Sunnich murder. But now the Cambodian artists move with bodyguards.

Another interesting fact to be noted : The fight of the Cambodian lawyers to democratize the Bar (Association) of lawyers. In this struggle, our lawyers received neither help nor assistant of the major powers.

Until now no any major power comes to help us in these domains. China forms in driblets the Cambodian engineers and technicians in China and in chinese. The other major powers do the same. Almost nobody comes to help us to have leeway to make up in this domain. Let us remind that Bill Gates of Microsoft gives training 15 000 engineers of high-level computer specialists to Vietnamese.

Major powers spend enormously to help the poor countries to fight against AIDS and the famine. Now everybody knows that the educated peoples know better how to fight against the AIDS propagation and against the famine. Why not using a part of these helps to educate the people, in particular the women?

So, thanks to the efforts and the fights of our fellow countrymen in Cambodia, the absolute number of the lettered increases. But regrettably its percentage decreases. Still the well-read remain flooded in the ocean by the illiterates.

A group of Cambodians in Australia has just realized the lack of culture amongst the young Cambodians especially the Cambodian language. In the marriages of love and reason, it is often the foreign spouse who asks to go in Cambodia to get fresh ideas in our culture. This group has just realized a film about this subject and recommends to learning of our language in Australia as first measure. This film will be projected in Cambodia next March.

Let us note as well the fact that numerous Cambodians pensioner come to settle in Cambodia and bring their knowledge to give some training to the Cambodian technicians. It is also a mattering fact to impulse the solidarity between Cambodians.

In Cambodia, the construction of houses and buildings is going full swing. Are there big Cambodian enterprises participate in these constructions? Did the United States call Cambodian companies to build its immense embassy near Watt Phnom ? Now many buildings are built in Phnom Penh and its environs, are there participation of the Cambodian companies, the architects, the engineers and the Cambodian technicians ?

About the formation of the lower, average and upper middle-class

How a country can be independent if the artisans, the technicians, the engineers, the leaders of the commercial and industrial of the small and medium-sized enterprises are still mainly foreigners ? Why there is no school or institute to form and train them massively ?

Presently, no any major powers help us to form these people according to our need. But what is regrettable is that none of our politicians has a program to remedy this state of things.

Of course there are foreigners like Swiss Beat Richner who builds his four Kantha Bopha hospitals with companies, architects, engineers, technicians and workers 100 % Cambodians, assisted by some foreign experts in case of necessity. Also these hospitals are managed by a medical staff and other personnel also 100% Cambodians, with 0 % corruption and without the slightest favoritism. Swiss hygiene reigns in these hospitals. More, drugs using in these hospitals are the same quality as of the Switzerland. Cambodians call these hospitals of “Monti Pait Thane Sour” (hospitals of the paradise). Does Richner show us that Cambodians are capable of doing everything and they are doing well ?

On the other hand Japan build bridges, roads and highways, mainly to facilitate the terrestrial communications with Saigon with an aim of making Cambodian foreign trade depending of this vietnamese port. It is anyway the policy adopted by the colonial regime since the middle of the XIXth century. More for these constructions Japan uses only companies, engineers and vietnamese technicians. Why this exclusivity?

The Chinese build bridges and roads connecting Phnom Penh with Laos and also to improve our internal communications. But they use only companies, engineers and chinese technicians.

Besides, in the economic point of view, there is an unbearable monopoly of the vietnamese company Sokimex in the oil importation and in other numerous products as the drugs. Sokimex also has the monopoly for the preparation of the police and army uniforms. By that way Sokimex is now equipped with a treasury’s war of several billions of US dollars. There is also a gigantic vietnamese bank Canadia chairing by a Cambodian coming from Canada to camouflage its vietnamese management. Cambodians of Canada know him very well.

So, Vietnam uses Hok Lundy - Hun Sen clan to make everything to hinder the Cambodian's lower and middle-class from developing. So, the lower and the middle-class, by necessity, are obliged to fight against this dictatorial regime. They do not do openly, but by all means for their arrangement, including the domestic and other liaisons.

On the other hand the hairdressers, the dressmakers, the bicycle technicians, motorcycles, cars, motors of any kinds, televisions and other electronic devices form mainly by self-taught and by some rare private schools. There is now a development of certain number of these Cambodian companies in any kind, particularly in the city and in Phnom Penh.

In fact, managers are generally educated persons at certain level. It is what explains that in Phnom Penh for example, during the elections, the Hok Lundy - Hun Sen clan obtains only a third of votes. That in spite of murders, frauds and other various intimidations.

Also let us note that about more than 250 000 workers and especially the factory workers mainly textile industries. It is the first time in Cambodia where there are so many factory workers. The salary of these workers represents 200 millions US dollars a year. This sum is completely injected and well absorbed in the Cambodian economy. On the other hand these workers men and women spent several times a year with their family in the villages. They are vectors of spreading ideas from the cities. So our farmers in the village stay in touch permanently with the capital where factories are concentrated. On another side, to defend their interests these workers know that their forces now are living in their unity of trade unions. It is a new shape of the struggle in the current Cambodian society.

Let us remind that our provinces of the northeastern and eastern are being economically connected to Vietnam. Japan builds a highway connecting all the Northeast of our country: Kraties, Stung Treng, Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri to the vietnamese port Danang. This highway is built by vietnamese companies and using particularly the vietnamese engineers. The hydroelectric dams are also constructed by vietnamese companies and the electricity’s production is totally managed by vietnamese companies. Also, our eastern provinces, in particular Svay Rieng is already supplied by vietnamese electricity at a double price of what it costs in Vietnam. The Hok Lundy clan is organizing to integrate of these provinces to Vietnam administratively. The Hok Lundy - Hun Sen clan has just signed the integration of our telecommunication systems with those of Vietnam.

All this without the slightest protest of our politicians; why this collusive silence ?

(To be followed…)

Notes : Cet article est disponible en français sur demande.
Lewis Mumford, in « La Cité à travers l’histoire », Editions du Seuil, Paris 1964, page 59.
[2] « The Minority of Cambodian in Cochinchina » (La Minorité Cambodgienne de Cochinchine), by Louis Malleret, Bulletin de la Société des Etudes Indochinoises, Tome XXI, 1er semestre 1946.
[3] In « Le Mal Cambodgien » of Marie Alexandrine Martin, Edition Hachette, Paris 1989, page 60.
[4] During the « International Junior Science Olympiad » (IJSO), held in Jogjakarta (Java Island, Indonesia), 4-13 December 2005, Cambodia presented 6 candidates. There were about 200 candidates come from at least 25 countries of all the continents, except Canada, USA, Japan, France, England, Germany and Australia. Cambodia received 6 medals: Dy Kuchsa (Golden medal), Huoy Channaren (Bronze medal), Hun Vanasola (Bronze medal), Mom Charya (silver medal), Ty Sovisal (silver medal), and Say Buntha (Bronze medal).