jeudi, novembre 15, 2007

Errors of Sihanouk (Part 1 of 6)

News From Cambodia N° 0706


Khemara Jati
Montréal, Québec
February 12th, 2007

We publish below a kind of self-criticism written by the King Father Norodom Sihanouk during the period of his first administration. The said article, translated into English, is posted below.

First of all we would like to express our congratulations to King Father Sihanouk on this kind of self-criticism. For the first time in our history that a top personality in a political affair of the Cambodia has the courage to do so. We wish that the King Father reveals to Cambodians of the next generations the purpose of the political conversations with the great of this world. It is allowing our historians to get the first hand testimonies on what really takes place between King Sihanouk and the Chiefs of State of major powers in the world. For example, Cambodians would like to know what takes place behind the scenes during the negotiations preceding the signature of the Paris Agreements of October 23rd, 1991.

Sihanouk reveals to us only the foreign policy. We would like to present our point of view onto the incapacities of internal policy. Because the International Affair of a country is only the reflection or the interpretation of the internal policy. On the other hand the experience shows that in the world everything settles by the global report of the military, economic, cultural and intellectual forces. On the international scene there is never a feeling of gratitude or to regret anything. Major power as well as our neighbors act above all of defending their fundamental interests. They never make any presents or gifts to any country. On the rare occasion it happens that some helps from major powers coincide with our needs. It is thus an urgent necessity that Cambodian intellectuals form groups to study closely and widely the geo-strategic interests of major powers and its evolutions. These groups of reflection have officially located in all the developed countries of the world, including in our neighbors. These groups helps the political responsible to make the decisions accordingly.

The errors of Sihanouk are at first and mainly in the internal policy. The weakness of this home policy brought Sihanouk to lead a foreign policy based mainly on the feelings, as moreover his allies of time as Sukarno and Tito for example of the non-aligned countries. Indonesia of Sukarno has the chance to be saved because it is islands far from the predators. It is not the case of Yugoslavia.

The incapacities of the internal policy during the first administration of Sihanouk

1/. Ignorance of the Cambodian's sacrifice two thousand years back, so that Cambodia remains alive until nowadays
After the acquisition of independence confirmed by the Geneva agreements of July 20th, 1954, when France withdraw its troops of our country, you appropriate this victory for you alone, excluding all Cambodians who fought all along our history in the war of liberation allowing our country to exist until nowadays, in particular during recent period those who died during the long war against the vietnamese troops organized and equiped by French under the officers of Monseigneur de Béhaine at the end of the XVIIIth century and at the beginning of the XIXth[1], leading Ang Duong to be crowned, in 1848, as King of Cambodia at Oudong, the capital of Cambodia of this time, with badges of the Cambodian monarchy without any foreign army on our land. Strong of his victories, Ang Duong required that the Cambodian monarchy attributes is returned from Huê. The Vietnamese themselves recognize their defeat and the retreat of their troops of Cambodia:

« Cambodia was never in peace. Siameses and Vietnamese called one the other of the Khmer princes who were in confrontation returning Cambodian people in troubles. For the price of their "help", Siameses occupied in 1814 the provinces of Tonlé Repou, Stung Treng and Mlu Prey, whereas Minh-mang, in 1834, tried even to annex the country. Trân-tây thang province was divided into 32 phu and 2 huyên. The policy of assimilation began immediately: install the civil and military civil servants, the opening of vietnamese schools, control of the business, the cadastre of lands, collecting of taxes over the subscribers, the farms, the boats and the local products. But the abuses in which were engaged the mandarins (Vietnamese) drew up Cambodia against the invader. The brother of Ang Chan, Ang Duong (Ong Dôn) took the head of the resistance by means of the Siam, and led a hard guerrilla warfare. After the death of Minh-mang, Thiêu-tri, giving up Trân-tây thang, removed his troops (1841). This short time of Cambodia annexation, expensive in men and in material, ended in a defeat. But the decision of Thiêu-tri was wise.» [2]

Read also the development of this war in « Histoire du Cambodge » by Adhémard Leclère (1st Edition Paul Geuthner, Paris 1914, many times re-published and recently translated into cambodian) and also in «Le Cambodge entre le Siam et le Vietnam » by Khin Sok (Edition Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient, Paris 1991). In these documents, it is always necessary to take into account Leclère's subjectivity and moreover, the autocensorship of the Royal Column's authors. It is also necessary to notice that until nowadays, the sources of these authors remains unknown. Had they access to which documents in which witnesses ?

Ang Duong had Pandit Nong as private tutor. Nong is a scholar and also the author of the most former Royal Chronicles of Cambodia. Ang Duong also was the last King of Cambodia to implement an important papers in the language of the people. Ang Duong knew how to recognize the value of his generals who contributed to the final victory by interring their ashes in Chaydeys (stupas) at Oudong. Before 1970, families owning sabres (sword), with magic registrations, from their ancestors went every year to make prayers in front of Chaydeys of their glorious ancestors. It would be desirable that after the independence, historians make inquiries with these families and old men to collect testimonies on these exploits, not only during the war of liberation under Ang Duong, but also during the National Uprising of 1885-1886 which « put in check not only the instant reforms, but also, durably, the wills of annexation which were outlined behind those. Cambodia saved her existence in front of French Cochinchina. » [3]

It would be necessary to recognize also the merit of the patriot’s struggles of the 1930s, in particular within the newspaper Nagaravata born in 1936, as Son Ngoc Thanh, Achar Hem Cheav (died in the vietnamese gulag as Sarin Chhak and his wife), Pach Choeun, and Boun Chan Mol among others. Mol is the only one who leaves very precious papers for our history.

It would also be necessary to recognize the struggles of the patriotic intellectuals as Achar Pang Khat, Nourn Duong etc. and the patriotic intellectuals all around the world.

So after the independence, it would be desirable to set up a monument in honor of all those who sacrificed their life saving Cambodia until our days.

In the history of the world, any country becomes independent because of a single man. De Gaule is a son of France already having a long military tradition illustrated by the napoleonic wars and the victory of 1918. De Gaule has never forgotten those who helped him to free France as well as those deaths who allowed France to remain among major powers in the world. After the liberation, he did not hesitate to ally with the communists and call upon the people who worked under Pétain like Maurice Papen for example to gather all the French people. He jailed Pétain in Yeu's island, the German's co-worker, but also the winner of Verdun's battle during the First World war. Because the most mattering and the most urgent are to gather the frenchmen all over for the reconstruction of France and to defend its independence facing other major powers.

A war memorial is the first symbol to gather the alive people. All the great nations of the world have it without exception. Now Vietnam builds since 1979 in Phnom Penh, and cities of provinces and everywhere monuments to the glory of the vietnamese soldiers. These monuments are always well maintained The Vietnamese high personalities come to deposit flowers at feet of the monument set up in Phnom Penh. The Vietnamese tourists come to pay respect in front of this monument. Until now only Rainsy obtained the right to build a monument, after the long and bitter fights, for the memory of Cambodians killed during the massacre of March 30th, 1997. The Phnom Penh's governor who authorized the construction of this monument was immediately sacked by Hun Sen on Hok Lundy's order.

(To be continued) …

Note : Cet article est aussi disponible en cambodgien et en français sur demande.
[1] « Histoire de l’Indochine, la perle de l’Empire 1624 – 1954 » by Philippe Héduy, Ed. Albin Michel, Paris 1998, page 66 to 108.
[2] In « Histoire du Vietnam, des origines à 1858 » par Lê Thanh Khôi, Ed. Sudestasie, Paris 1992, page 363. Read also the progress of this war in « Histoire du Cambodge » by Adhémard Leclère (1st édition Paul Geuthner, Paris 1914, Several times republished and recently translated into Cambodian) and also in «Le Cambodge entre le Siam et le Vietnam » by Khin Sok (Edition Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient, Paris 1991) also translating into cambodian.
[3] In « Le Cambodge et la Colonisation Française », by Alain Forest, Edition L’Harmattan, Paris 1980, page13.