The Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1867
News of Cambodia N° 0834-E
And the French Protectorate of 1863
July 28th, 2008
To better understand Preah Vihear's problem, the only two Treaties between France and then Siam of 1904 and 1907 are not enough. It is important to go back up as farther as when the French step up in the area. Indeed the treaty of the French Protectorate of August 11th 1863. From this date, France represented Cambodia in all the international relations, in particular with Siam.
Let us remind that, on July 5th, 1867, France signs with Siam a treaty by which France gives up one-sidedly to Siam not only our current provinces of the Northwest among which Battambang and Mlou Prey, but also Chanthabury, Trat and the wide islands. Nowadays many inhabitants of these “Thaï” provinces bordering the western Cambodia still speak Cambodian as current language. Nowadays no any history book of Cambodia writes about this treaty of 1867 except the book “Histoire du Cambodge” of Adhémard Leclère, page 490 and 491 (translated unofficially from French by Khemara Jati) :
« Worried by the Siamese delegate at Oudong, however the king of Cambodia had secretly signed with Siam a similar treaty to the one whom he has signed with us (France). In March 1867, the government of Bangkok, seeing that this treaty was suspected by us, pushed of itself to declare that it had dealt with king Norodom in a time when it still ignored that a treaty bound Cambodia with France, and that, having learnt of it, it cancelled it for not to damage our action. Now, at the present time, king of Siam had just signed with our consul (Charles Louis de Montigny) in Bangkok, who did not know the real situation and without knowing the admiral governor (of Cochinchina), a treaty by which we recognized that the provinces of Angkor and Battambang belonged to Siam.
« This inconvenient treaty was known in Saigon on July 1867; our government at that time had ratified it in Paris (July 5th, 1867) and these beautiful provinces - that the admiral and that Mr. de Lagrée, the representative of the French protectorate in Cambodia, wanted to restore them to the kingdom - were for forty years still lost to the kingdom. The admiral was dissatisfied, M. de Lagrée, our representative of the Protectorate at Oudong was furious. »
Thus the treaties of 1904 and 1907 were compromises in depend on Cambodian interests. France had given up to Siam our provinces on the West of Battambang and islands on the wide.
During the Siamese occupation of our current western provinces and those of the Northwest, of which Battambang, contrary to the information given by foreign documents nowadays, Siam did not save its efforts to convert them to become siamese. Siam tried in vain to put in the place of a member of the Kathathan family to govern Battambang, a docile Siamese in Bangkok's orders. The population of these provinces refused to speak siamese. On the contrary, Cambodian families of these provinces become leading politicians in Bangkok such as Pridi and Aphayvong for example. Nowadays certain number of high ranking Thaïs officers speaks Cambodian and are married with Cambodian women of Battambang. Others are descendants of Cambodians recognizable often by their name. So if the Cambodian of Battambang keeps preserving their cultural identity during the Siamese occupation, it is not by kindness of the thai power.
Pridi (May 11th, 1900 - May 2nd, 1983 in Antony, France) has studied the law in Paris. He was ennobled by thai king with Luang Pridi Phanomyong's title. After his political defeats, he returns to live in France until his death. It is interesting to note that a Cambodian student, namely Kheng, coming to make training in Paris before 1970, lived with Pridi’s niece.
In the official biography of Luang Pridi, there is no any reference mentioned his Cambodian origin history. It is normal. So, many official documents are real lies. The history is then written by the alive one that is by the conquerors or the winners. It is often necessary to remember it.
So, spending times accusing the past is to accept beforehand that the future is built by the others. It means to go into the future backward. The most important decision is to participate in the construction of the future of our country with our new generations.
In conclusion, by the treaties of 1904 and 1907, France got back to Cambodia only a small part of the Cambodian land and maritime domains lost by the treaty of 1867. Thus Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia since before the French arrival as well. It is not the fact that one of our governors of provinces made allegiance to Siam or to Annam then to say that this province belongs to Siam or to Annam. The most important are to study profoundly the attitude of the Cambodian people living in these territories during the French colonization. We shall be back in the next article on the case of Hatien and the other Cambodian provinces of Kampuchea Krom (Cochinchina) during the time of the French arrival.
We wish that our fellow countrymen make researches more deepened on these questions by consulting, rather, the documents of time, foreign and Cambodian as well and also by interrogating persons who’s the family or connaissants who have connections with our history of this period. The current documents contain a lot of inaccurate information but also real facts. It is necessary to know how to sort out them with a lot of difference.
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