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Khmer's a sandwich between Siamese & Vietnamese
Posted By: SLK <mailto:email@example.com?subject=Khmer's
a sandwich between Siamese & Vietnamese> (cache.net2000.com.au) In Response To: what kind human right
do we have (koy)
Date: Wednesday, 2 July 2003, at 6:58 p.m.
In Response To: what kind human right do we have (koy)
Khmer is a good sandwich on silver plate between Siamese and Vietnamese
Thais and Vietnamese always called Khmer, “barbarians and uncivilized.” But why are Khmer lands getting smaller and smaller so far so worse? As King Norodom Sihanouk clearly told to his Khmer children on TVK between 1993 and 1994 by demonstrating: “My children, you are fighting among yourselves. Look, our land is getting closer and closer to Phnom Penh now from the West (Thais) and East (Vietnamese).” He disappointedly continued his statement. “You said, you follow your King all the ways, but when you go home, you go on your own instead!”
Thais and Vietnamese have always been trying so extremely hard to seal off Khmer National ID from outside world. In every book, which is written by Siam and Yuon, always bullshitting to the world that there are only a few thousands of Khmers living on their land.
Cambodian people are so extremely kind, honest, trustworthy and friendly until their lands are getting smaller and smaller, are like a good sandwich, are illegally and nicely eaten on the silver plate by Siam and Yuon everyday until today. And it’s still happening today at Khmer-Siam and Yuon borders. Thais and Vietnamese always regarded themselves as civilized people in the South East Asia. But what sorts of civilized people are they? And the people in the outside world who still misunderstood that Cambodia where there are full of killing fields, intimidation, and torture…Yes, there are many killings, intimidation, torture and environment destroyers, all but Vietnamese and Thais who are destroying everything Khmers had. Look, around Tonle Sap, where there are at least one million illegal Vietnamese migrants who eat, sleep and shit into water. They completely are poisoning the water to kill all fish. A Khmer man, who came to live in Australia from Kampong Chhnang, clearly told me that if one of us Khmers go fishing on boat alone who would be without returning to their home, be killed on the spot by the Vietnamese fishers who are living on the water. If the people in the outside world who didn’t know much about Khmer plights and dangers, might say that Khmers are xenophobia/racists. Today, they are still busy accusing each other, and fighting among themselves with the foreigners’ backings. Not many history books are written by Khmer author/writers in English explaining to the people in the outside world about the dangers to the Khmer nation that we-Khmers are facing to until these days as following:
Siamese + Vietnamese= Genocide/pogrom/murderers/butchers/killing field creators, bloodsuckers/Draculas, the dreamers of creating Indochinese Federation, hegemonists, neo-colonialism, imperialism, expansionists, annexationists, Leninists, Stalists, totalitarianism, dictators/tyrants, land plunderers, land robbers, eartheaters, conquerors, encroachers, invaders/aggressors, oppressors, statue looters and barbarianism …who were/are the worst violators of human rights on earth, had/have committed too much ferocious crimes against Khmers, are perfectly trying to seal off their dirty plans of genocide on Khmers from the outside world, to read like this:
WHEN THE WAR WAS OVER
CAMBODIA'S REVOLUTION & THE VOICE OF ITS PEOPLE
ELIZABETH BECKER, 1986
Angkor’s decline, feuds within the royal family that facilitated foreign conquest of Cambodia and ninety years of French colonial rule added bitterness to the legacy. By the time Cambodia won its independence in this century, its national pride had been severely wounded, neighbouring Siamese and Vietnamese had grabbed territory, nearly always with the aid of a Khmer prince, and the French had declared Cambodians unfit for the modern era. Whenever a leader rose to challenge the French as occurred during the Second World War, he was done as often by his fellow Khmer as foreign figure.
India made the greatest contribution to the Angkor society. The Indian culture-its religion, philosophy, political belief, and language-gave the Khmers the larger framework they needed to build a true empire. Indian Brahmans travelled to the region as early as the second century A.D. from Burma to Cambodia and Champa. These Indians, whether priests of merchants, brought the new culture as commercial and religious emissaries from India, not as a vanguard for a military conquest. India never ruled over the region. India’s culture was impressed onto these Southeast Asian societies through this peaceful exchange, and much of the region was marked permanently as "Indianised" or "sanskritzed" states.
As their neighbouring states of Vietnam and Siamese grew in stature and appetite for Khmer territory, the people became convinced that their race and culture would disappear. In their culture, there were two answers to such a threat: either accept it as it inevitable or use all measures, regardless of their violence, to prevent it.
Cambodia’s Buddhist heritage; Cambodia proved fertile ground for both messages that exalted the injured Khmer nation and race. the centuries of defeat and humiliation since Angkor, the effect of the French patronizing of "lazy" Cambodians while promoting "industrious "Vietnamese, and the vivid fear of those "industrious" Vietnamese taking over Cambodia had left their mark.
Now they wondered if lon Nol had dreams of restoring the entire ancient Khmer empire, of regaining the "lost provinces" from South Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. Their fears were realistic. Lon Nol was one of those Cambodians who could not bring himself to call South Vietnam any more name other than Kampuchea Krom “lower Cambodia."
"At the peak of its splendour, our country earned the surname of Chenla the rich and the people lived an easy, comfortable life. This sweet life was forgotten by the menace war, and the Khmer people, after having known a period of glory and peace, were invaded by the Siamese in the fourteenth century. In 1432, they had to move their capital [from Angkor] to Udong. In the seventeenth and eighteen centuries, a double attack by the Annamites [Vietnamese] and Siamese [Thais] sowed disorder in the country and our people, after having known glory and power, entered into a period of difficulty because at that moment European colonialism appeared on the horizon. The English on one side and the French on the other, thanks to modern weaponry, undertook the partition of the Indochinese peninsula, and then all of Asia fell under the "domination of the white."
Lon Nol, the "black papa," then described the current situation and the modern enemy-the North Vietnamese and Vietcong, whom he was as the modern children of the Annamites who had conquered Kampuchea Krom. Their goal, he wrote, was to "systematically destroy our socioeconomic structure to them but to change our way of life, to modify our way of thinking and abolish our religious beliefs."
He said the country was embroiled in war for the very existence of the Khmer race and culture against an "implacable enemy… the most cruel and most barbaric in history." but he had full confidence that his holy warriors would defeat the Vietnamese. "during five centuries our people have known miseries and calamities, but in the face of all these vicissitudes-occupied territory, people under domination-the Khmer, thanks to their determination, to their indomitable courage, have lifted their heads and are recovering liberty… we can restore our historic glory that our country the titles' the island of power' and 'Chenla the rich'; it is possible that our generation can fashion from their hands a new Khmer state, rich, independent, and powerful."
Racial salvation, "national honour and dignity," the restoration of control over: our national territory and our race" became the public themes of the revolution, even to the pint of mentioning how "we have already lost Kampuchea Krom, "or south Vietnam. Saloth Sar had become lon Nol without sorcery.
The Cambodians asked Vietnamese why they were abiding by their 1967 agreement with Sihanouk that recognized all existing borders between Vietnam and Cambodia as drawn by the French. Although the French boundaries had been drawn in favor of the Vietnamese, Sihanouk had used them in negotiations simply to establish that the Vietnamese had no right to claim further territory. The most controversial of the lines was the "brevie line" which the French had drawn as the maritime boundary between the Vietnamese and Cambodians but which they had described as colonial administrative boundary, not necessarily a true international boundary.
P.20. Discovery? :
What is unclear is whether this retreat took place with the great pomp and ceremony described by certain chroniclers, or whether the king and his court fled in disarray before the advances of a Thai army. One thing is certain: Angkor was plundered and devastated and, except perhaps for a very short period during the 16th century, was never again to house the capital of Cambodia, which was removed south of the Great Lake and eventually established at Phnom Penh.
By transporting Angkor’s statues to his own capital the Thai king was not setting a precedent for Napoleon Bonaparte pillaging Europe to enrich the Louvre, it was not beauty he was removing, but the power of the kings of Angkor as contained in these divine images. A hundred years later the Burmese were shrewd enough to do the same:
Three headed elephant dating from the 12th or 13th century. Like the other statues now in Mandalay, plundered by the Thais and then by the Burmese, it probably came from Neak Pean, Chou Ta-Kuan’s ‘island in the Northern Lake’ at Angkor.
When they conquered Thailand they sacked Ayuthaya, the capital, and in their turn removed a number of the Angkor statues. Finally in 1734 these statues arrived in Mandalay, where they have remained ever since.
Map showing the route taken by the Khmer bronzes looted by the Thais in 1431. The road to Mandalay:
Angkor in 1431 to Bangkok; from Bangkok in 1569 to Ayuthaya; from Ayuthaya in 1600 to Pegu; from Pegu in 1734 to Mrohaung, and Pagan and then to Mandalay.
The Thais in Angkor: A late Cambodian chronicle (there are in fact no early ones) gives a polite account of the conqueror’s exploits in Angkor describing the Thai king questioning the ‘Khmer mandarins’ about the origin, history and purpose of the various monuments he encounters. Having set up a guard to protect the city, ‘he removed the august statues of Buddha made of gold, silver, bronze and previous stones, as well as a number of statue of August Bull and of the other animals’. He also invited the monks to follow him and, for good measure, deported to Thailand sixty thousand families from the conquered capital. (Angkor Wat, 1996, Britain)
In his book (War & Hope, with William Shawcross, 1980), King Sihanouk gave all clearest messages to the world about Siamese and Vietnamese dirty plans against Khmers:
P.xxviii: The Vietnamese, in Saigon as well as Hanoi, proceeded to slice up the country only Norodom Sihanouk's presence in power had kept intact.
P.xiv: Cambodia’s history is unfortunately replete with plots and counterplots, conquests and occupations, secret conspiracies. Wedged between the Annamites and the Siamese, the ancient Khmer Empire commanded their respect. It stretched from the Point of Camau, the extreme southern tip of Indochina, to near the site of Bangkok. Little by little the Empire disintegrated. On August 11, 1863, the French Admiral Lagrandiere forced King Norodom to sign a protectorate treaty. On July 17, 1884, the Kingdom further capitulated in order to survive: the Governor of Cochin China, Charles Thomson, arrived in Phnom Penh, threatened the Khmer sovereign with deportation, and forced him to sign a protectorate treaty under which he relinquished judicial, financial, military, and diplomatic powers…etc.
Ibidem: Just look at Kampuchea Krom [South Vietnam]: what was once Kampuchean territory has now become an integral part of Vietnam and our unfortunate Khmer Krom compatriots are bound to lose their Pralung Cheat [National Soul], since they have been forced to give up their Kampuchean citizenship.
P.107:-In the second place, Hanoi is afraid Norodom Sihanouk might be restored to power.
P.148-49: But no matter what they say about me, until the day I die I will keep on believing that the Vietnamese will have no regard for our national independence and territorial integrity until they have reason to be grateful to us.
In Khmer Krom Forum:
If your parents are Khmer Krom please request them to explain you more in depth about our Khmer Krom’s last names. I believe they know better than me. Le is absolutely Viet, but Huynh, Tran, Lam and Li maybe Chinese Khmer Krom. Tran can be Vietnamese but also can be Chinese and so can be Khmer Kroms. Many of my friends, with those last names of Huynh, Tran, and Lam and Li, live with Khmer Krom community for centuries and they never even think that they are Chinese or Vietnamese. Many of Khmer Krom Buddhist monks with those last names went to Buddhist school in the temple with me. Please don't make KK young generations get confused and discriminate against people with those last names.
Here are some respectable Khmer Kroms with those last names: Mr. Tran Manrinh is Khmer Krom high ranking official working in the KKF; Lok Ta Huynh Cuong working to serve Khmer Krom interest when he was governor of Khet Klang, and Mr. Li Chhun was suspected and jailed by Vietnamese for being Khmer Krom doing patriotic work in the interest of Khmer Krom; and Lok Ta Lam Suong has been respected highly by our Khmer Krom in our homeland. He was a Khmer Krom teacher teaching Khmer Kroms and monks all this life. I believed he was once arrested by the Vietnamese government, too. Please be careful when making comment regarding last name, because the population is very large with one last name. Take care everyone! Sincerely
That’s why King Sihanouk formed a group of Red Khmer, known as to the outside world as “Khmer Rouge”. Khmer Proverb goes: [If] you can’t make up your mind [what to do], you can’t be a king. Norodom Sihanouk is the greatest-genius king on earth who isn’t afraid of being strongly condemned/hated by his own people and the world. But in fact the world never condemns him for his action joining with the Khmer Rouge. The world only sees him-the only one man who could bring all Khmer parties into a negotiating table. But unfortunately, Vietnamese leaders also formed “faked Vietnamese soldiers as Khmer Rouge” to kill Khmers from 1975-1979 to fulfil their ancestral ambition of incorporating Khmer Kandal, Khmer Krom and Laos into “Vietnamization/under their absolute rule/domination.”
Unless I am mistaken, once the Khmer Rouges have died out completely, the Vietnamese will begin to follow the dictates of reason and wisdom. (War & Hope, William Shawcross, 1980. Prince Norodom Sihanouk.)
Simon Ross, 1983, Subjugation of Cambodia, P.7:
On his epic travels through Asia in the late 13th century, Marco Polo failed to see Kambuja, getting only as close as northern Burma and what is now northern Vietnam. So the people of Europe were not to know of the existence of the fabulous stone city until 1860.
There remains only one reliable written account of life in Angkor, compiled by a Chinese visitor was still stunned by the glittering magnificence of Angkor. He rapturously described the staggering stone work, and wrote of the gilded and mirrored audience halls and of the 3000 to 5000 concubines and palace girls.
But perhaps he still never saw the best: I have heard it said that inside the palace are many marvellous things; but the palace is strictly guarded and one cannot enter.
On several occasions Chou saw the King leave his palace:…on his wrists, ankles and fingers he has bracelets and rings of gold…he goes barefoot and the soles of his feet as well as the palms of his hand are dyed red. When he set out from the palace he was preceded by girls of the palace carrying utensils of gold and silver. Then followed goat carriages and horse carriage, all ornamented with gold. More than one hundred parasols were garnished with gold and had gold handles. Then followed the King, standing on an elephant whose tusks were enveloped in gold, holding in his hand the golden sword. He was surrounded by his bodyguards made up of palace girls carrying lances and shields, and by a cavalry guard mounted on horses and elephants.
Chou wrote of the abundant food-the two or three rice crops per year, onions and egg-plants, melons and gourds, sugar cane and taro: luscious oranges, peaches, bananas, lychees, plums and apricots. Domestic animals included horses, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens, while the forests teemed with game and birds.
No body knows the exact reason for Angkor’s demise and total abandonment, but Thai aggression was undoubtedly a major factor. Around the year 1200 the Thais, who originated from the north, began challenging the Khmer stranglehold and soon carved huge chunks off the western reaches of Kambuja to establish their own nation of Siam.
Over the next hundred years the Thais encroached steadily further until they were storming and plundering even Angkor itself. It appears Angkor was occupied by the Thais on several occasions throughout the fifteenth century before the humbled Khmer kings finally transferred their capital to a more defensible site many hundreds of kilometres to the south.
The successive Thai invasions seem to have destroyed much of the irrigation system upon which Angkor was so dependent and this waste crippled the Khmer agriculture. Vast numbers of stagnant pools formed, providing ideal breeding grounds for malarial mosquitoes and perhaps, ultimately, it was this tiny but invincible enemy which drove the Khmers from Angkor also the soil become depleted from intensive use over the centuries.
Those who have studied Angkor believe the ordinary Cambodians were thankful to see the end of the city. Intense physical effort had been need to create and maintain the temples, canals and the roads. The Cambodians people suffered greatly for six hundred years to create splendour for their kings.
Following their exodus from Angkor around 1440, the Khmers attempted reconsolidation of their empire. Although the Thais were threatening from the west, the eastern borders of Kambuja still stretched across the Mekong Delta to the South China Sea. To the north of the Delta was the state of Champa. And, above the Chams, were the powerful and aggressive Annamites, a fiercely warlike people who called themselves Dai Viet.
The Chams were Kambuja’s protective buffer against the southward thrusts of the expansionist Vietnamese who in turn were being pressurized downwards by the Chinese. But the uncomprehending Khmers regarded the Chams as natural enemies and ferociously continued constant, pricking attacks against them.
These struggles weakened the Cham, leaving them vulnerable to the Vietnamese who eventually overran Champa and wiped that state from continued pressing southwards, chipping at eastern Kambuja.
That was the beginning of the Cambodian-Vietnamese conflict; a protracted struggle which still rages unabated today. Just as Pol Pot’s insanity let the Vietnamese in through the back door in 1979, so it was the Khmers’ own foolishness five hundred years earlier which enabled the Vietnamese to slip in then, too.
For in 1470, when the Vietnamese hurled themselves at Champa, the Chams had sought Khmer aid. But the Cambodians scorned the plight of their neighbour. Subsequently the Cham capital of Vijaya was sacked by the Vietnamese in 1471. Although not involved in the fight, that event was decisive in the Khmers’ history because with Champa wiped out the buffer was gone. Cambodia was now the meat between the Thai and the Vietnamese sandwich.
From the west the Thais remained aggressive and the new Cambodian capital of Lovek due to heavy bamboo fortress. The story goes that cunning Thais deliberately fired fusillades of silver bullets to fall short into the bamboo and then retreated back, seemingly abandoning the siege. Upon discovering silver bullets in the thickets, the Cambodians are said to have hacked down the bamboo in a scrambling search for the prized souvenirs. The Thais then returned and with the bamboo thickets now gone had a much easier time of storming the walls. They the burnt Lovek, destroying historical Cambodian archives.
Simultaneously the Vietnamese pressurized from the east, and from now on it was to be a long, downhill slide for the Cambodians; a constant, desperate struggle for survival.
Saigon had begun as a sleepy Cambodian fishing village named Prei Kor, but three hundred years ago the Saigon area and strips of the Mekong were forcibly taken by the Vietnamese. Further still the invaders encroached. It soon seemed that the whole of Cambodia was Vietnam’s for the taking until the Cambodians were momentarily spared by the Tay-Son rebellion inside Vietnam which distracted the Vietnamese rulers.
But the relief was only temporary and by 1800 Cambodia had lost all the Mekong Delta to Vietnamese aggression and this fertile area was settled by Vietnamese settlers. The few Cambodians who remained there became a minority in their own homelands.
Cambodia was by now very weak. The Khmer people still retained vigour as ferocious fighters, but courtly intrigues and bad military blunders by the Khmer general sapped the war effort. Also, the Cambodian monarch and his mandarins had long exploited the Khmer peasants, leaving them sullen and weary.
What was left of Cambodia became vassals of her two powerful neighbours. The Thais even annexed outright the western Cambodian provinces of Battambang, Sisophon and Siem Reap.
In 1833 the Vietnamese placed a puppet Khmer on the Cambodian throne and, when he soon died, replaced him with his daughter; she too only a token ruler, control exercised by the Vietnamese and enforced by a Vietnamese army of occupation. Cambodia had become a fragment of her aggressive neighbour who attempted to ‘Vietnamise’ the ‘dark, barbarian’ Khmers.
The Khmers appealed to the Thais for help and Bangkok sent troops in. For Thailand, like Cambodia, had an Indianised culture, whereas the Vietnamese were Sino (reflecting their Chinese origins). As Herz points out in his 1958 book A Short History of Cambodia, the rebellion proved two points:
It was first of all, a spontaneous popular revolution, organized by men of the people and co-ordinated by networks of messengers who gave cohesion to the actions of the peasants who had seemed so compliant, dull-witted and uninformed but who knew when their country’s existence was at stake and responded to the supreme challenge. At the very end of campaign, when all seemed lost as a fresh Vietnamese force took Phnom Penh and marched against Udong, it was not the Thai army that won the victory but a bush army of Cambodian peasants that appeared from nowhere, routed the Vietnamese and killed their general.
William Shawcross, 1986
Cambodia has held a special appeal for foreigners. Many of the journalists, tourists and diplomats who visited it in 1950s and 1960s wrote of an idyllic, antique land unsullied by the brutalities of the modern world. Phnom Penh was, it is true, an exquisite riverine city, and its fine white and yellow-ochre buildings, charming squares and cafes lent it a French provincial charm that gave it a considerable edge over its tawdry neighbours Bangkok and Saigon. It had not been overwhelmed by the pressures of war and trade; its population was only about 600,000, and there was little sign of the shantytowns of Coca-Cola-can slums in which Thai and Vietnamese peasants eked out a miserable existence. The huge covered market was stacked high with local produce-vegetables, rice and dozens of kinds of fish caught in the many waters of the land. And the countryside, where 90 percent of the people lived in villages built around their Buddhist temples seemed, if anything, even more attractive than the capital.
The Cambodian people were taller, darker, more sensuous and apparently friendlier than the Thais or the Vietnamese; visitors took to them immediately. There were no strategic hamlets, no refugee camps, and no State Department men with M-16 riffles and earnest smiles explaining the logic of rural development, and neither were there any Soviet of Chinese B-40 rockets firing indiscriminately from the tree line into the villages.
The country is about the same size as Missouri, or of England and Wales. Thick tropical forests cover much of the land, and two great rivers flow across and fertilize the central plains, where most of the people have always lived.
Like any other country, Cambodia was the complex product of geographical, social and political experience that provides precedent and warning for future history. It was never quite the smiling, gentle land that foreigners liked to see.
Water has fashioned Cambodia. In prehistory the central plain of the country was under the sea, and waves broke against the Dangrek Mountains of Southern Laos. The Mekong River fell through the narrow Laotian ranges and over the Khong Falls into the sea. Gradually the river built up the soil and filled the gulf to form present-day Cambodia and southern Vietnam. Today only the Great Lake (Tonle Sap) in the centre of Cambodia marks the original line of the seacoast. The lake is shaped an upside-down violin from northwest to southeast across the country, its stem leading into the Tonle Sap River to join the Mekong at the watershed on which the city of Phnom Penh was eventually built. The rivers meet briefly and dived again, as the Mekong and the Bassac, and flow on in two streams through fertile, red muddy fields into the great fanlike Delta of the Mekong, and so to the South China Sea.
In late spring the rivers begin to swell as torrents flow from the Himalayas over the Khong Falls and into the central plains. The great clouds that have been lowering over the Indian Ocean are driven toward the Asian land mass by the southwest trades. They break over the cracked plains and for four months Cambodia is inundated. The Mekong and the Bassac cannot contain the mass of silt-laden water that pours down toward the sea, and backs up in the Tonle Sap. In what should constitute a wonder of the world, the waters are actually reversed; they rush swirling back up the Tonle Sap River and burst into the Great Lake, which instantly spills over its shores and drowns thousands of acres of trees and fields. For most of the summer months the land remains under water to be re-fertilized and reinvigorated, and all of Cambodia is, in Rimbaud’s words, “filled with ochrous skies and drowned forests.” By November, the Himalayan snows have melted, prevailing winds are reversed, the clouds are driven away, the torrents of the monsoon cease, and the pressure on the Tonle Sap eases. The waters slip off the land and, filled with millions of fish, sweep down the rivers and into the sea.
As a result, parts of Cambodia are potentially among the most fertile of the tropical zones. But in its raw state the area is hostile; the damp atmosphere is draining the oppressive, the animal life is unfriendly, and the receding waters leave stagnant swamps as well as fertilized soil. Only extensive irrigation ensures a crop necessary for an expanding population. Civilization have flourished in the plains when the water has been brought under control, but-as elsewhere in Southeast Asia-there has always been tension between the people in the plains and the nomadic groups who have lived in the forest or the mountains.
Soon after the birth of Christ, the culture of India began to influence the area that is now Cambodia, and contact with China then followed. Most of what we know of those times comes from Chinese dynastic annals. The Chinese name for the state that occupied the Mekong Delta from the second to sixth century A.D. was “Funan.” Funan was the crucible in which Indian culture and the local people fused to produce a new civilization, the Khmers. It was a major stop on the sea trade routes to China; excavations have uncovered Indian-influenced art and trade goods from China, India and the Roman Empire. (Funan, which Chinese in those days who could not pronounce their Chinese dialect in Khmer “Phnom=Hill”. SLK)
Funan was expansionist, and according to Chinese texts, one of its first leaders, Fan Man, “attacked and conquered the neighboring kingdoms; all gave allegiance to him.” But just to the north a more clearly Khmer state appears in Chinese text as “Chenla.” It too was heavily under the influence of Indian cultures. (Chenla, which Chinese named Khmer in those days, was to mean that in Cambodia there were a lot of honeybees, known as “Kramorn Sar/Sot.” Kramorn Sar/Sot, which was a province of Cambodia, lost to Vietnamese colonialism and imperialism. See more in Khmer Krom net. SLK)
It was not an easy association, and Chinese texts of the nest two centuries refer to endless disputes and civil wars. Capital cities were evacuated and abandoned as kingdoms crumbled; it was not until the end of the eighth century that any kind of unity was achieved. Then extraordinary civilization of Angkor, on worship of the God-king and on control of the waters, began.
King Yasorvaman I, which reigned from 889 to 900 A. D., built the first city of Angkor northwest of the Great Lake and harnessed the Siem Reap River. Using slave labor, subsequent kings went on to built enormous reservoirs, or “barays,” intricate canals and careful dams. Year by year the canals stretched farther and farther out into the country, linking every town in the land. The big ships sailed up the Mekong into the Great Lake and transferred their cargoes to smaller barques, which could reach even the least accessible areas. The waterworks provide an everlasting and totally controlled source of irrigation, and the Khmers managed to produce three or four harvests a year.
This strong economic base enabled the kings of Angkor to pursue an expansionist foreign policy and to extend their suzerainty over vast areas of Southeast Asia, from the Mekong Delta across what is now Laos and Thailand west into Burma, and down the isthmus toward Malaya. Water also provided the hydraulic power and the transport for the construction of huge “temple-mountains,” which each king erected to his own glory. The most famous of them, Angkor Wat, was built in the twelfth century by Suryavarman II, a militant ruler (contemporary of Frederick Barbarossa) who waged war on all his neighbors. It was a stupendous creation; the main structure stood 130 feet high within square walls inside a moat that encompassed an area of almost one square mile. The temple rose in three successive tiers, and each terrace was surrounded by a carved gallery interrupted by pavilions, corner towers, stairways.
Suryavarman II’s creation was not unassailed for long. The Chams invaded Angkor Wat crossing the Great Lake from the south, sacking it and driving out the people. The empire never really regained its strength, but its decline was arrested for a time at the end of the twelfth century by King Jayavarman VII, who routed the Chams in a great naval battle and extended the country’s frontiers southward.
Jayavarman was a Buddhist, a follower of Mahayana, the Greater vehicle. But during his reign the influence of Theravada Buddhism, the Hinayana or Lesser Vehicle, began to spread from Siam.
Only one eyewitness account of life in Angkor remains. It comes from Kubla Khan’s envoy, Chou Ta-Kuan, who spent a year there at the end of the thirteenth century. He reported that for the mass of the people life still revolved around the palace and the temples. Thousands were conscripted into the armies of laborers, masons, sculptors and decorators who built the temples. Thousands more served these shrines once they had been constructed; one sanctuary contained 18 high priests, 2,740 officiants, 2,202 servers and 615 dancing girls.
No one knows exactly what happened, but it appears that through the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the spirit of the empire dissipated. The waterways were no longer properly tended, the barays began to leak, and the canals became cogged. Rice fields reverted to swamp or savannah, food production fell and so did the population. As the Siamese (Thais) expanded their kingdom to the West they began, with the encouragement of Kubla Khan to the north, to lay waste to Angkor. They annexed province after province and finally seized and sacked the capital itself. In 1431 the Khmers were driven out; thousands were carried off to Siam as slaves. Conscious of the power of the waterworks, the Siamese destroyed them. They stripped the temples and palaces of their rich adornments; the gray stones were left naked to face an encroaching jungle.
Cambodia became a vassal of Siam, unnoticed and almost unmentioned. Occasional attempts were made by her kings to reassert themselves, and Angkor was briefly reoccupied, but the efforts never lasted long. For the next several centuries the Siamese and Vietnamese kingdoms grew and Cambodia waned. Siamese armies moved back and forth across the western part of the unproductive land, and to the east the Vietnamese moved southward into the Mekong Delta. The capital shifted from site to site, including Phnom Penh, as different dynasties occupied the throne. Successive princes sought support from either the Vietnamese or the Siamese and became beholden to either one or the other.
The Khmers’ fear of their more populous neighbors increased as more and more of the old empire was annexed. But there was a vital different in the relationships. The Siamese and the Khmers shared the same religion and similar cultural patterns; this mitigated the effects of occupation by Siam. Relations with Vietnam by contrast involved a sharp cultural clash between Indian-influenced ad Chinese-dominated views of society; they were much more brutal and bitter. Unlike the Siamese, the Vietnamese regarded the Cambodians as “barbarians” and attempted to eradicate Cambodian customs in the areas they seized. (See more of Vietnamese + Khmer Rouge=Butchers, and Vietnamese hidden faces behind the killing fields. SLK)
By the early nineteenth century, the king received his crown from the Siamese and paid tribute to the Vietnamese. Cambodia was reduced to silver between the two countries; Angkor, largely lost from view, was well inside Siam. As one scholar has noted, thousands of Khmers were being “killed and uprooted in a series of ruinous wars, carried on inside [their] territory by the Thai, the Vietnamese and local factions.” The Thais burned down the Khmer capital three times in the first half of century; Vietnamese advisers kept the Cambodian monarch a prisoner for fifteen years; the chronicles are filled with references to plaques, famine and flood. It was a dark period.
In 1840 the Cambodians mounted a rebellion against the increasing Vietnamese domination of Khmer life. The Vietnamese emperor, Minh Mang, characterized Vietnam’s attitude to the Khmers in a letter to his general, Truong Minh Giang: “Sometimes the Cambodians are loyal; at other times they betray us. We helped them when they suffering and lifted them out of the mud…Now they are rebellious: I am so angry that my hair stands upright…Hundreds of knives should be used against them, to chop them up, to dismember them…” Elsewhere he ordered that they be “crushed to powder.” We are happy killing Vietnamese. We no longer fear them.” On this occasion the Khmer rebels used hit-and-d run tactics against the better-armed Vietnamese, who were forced to withdraw from around Phnom Penh to the Delta. Even so, by the middle of the century the country was on the verge of disappearing altogether into the grasps of its neighbors; it would have happened had the French not intervened and imposed a protectorate.
Quoting from Guide to Malaysia:
How come there are too many Khmers everywhere in South East Asia? The aboriginal tribesmen who have inhabited the Malaysian hinterland for 7, 000 years call themselves Orang Asli, meaning “ Original man,” a name they take pride in. they are the residue of various early migrations they down the peninsula from southern China. Thus they are physically and racially very mixed, some resembling South Sea islanders, others the Khmer people of Cambodia. (Guide to Malaysia. P.29 1977). A Khmer Krom man who clearly told me recently that one of his friends went to one of Indonesian islands who saw there are also too many Khmers on that Island. That man was friendlily greeted by Khmers on that Island like his Khmer Brothers and Sisters in Cambodia; he was so surprised about that. Those Khmers on that Island still speak Khmer very fluently.
Thais were brutally forced out of China to plunder Khmer lands
Photo: A bas-relief at Wat Phnom depicts Thailand's cession in 1907
Kenneth T So, a Khmer living in the United States, offers a view of Cambodia's past and future, prompted by comments about the Cambodian-Thai border issue.
A HISTORY lesson must be taught to Don Pramudwinai, the Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman reported in the Thai newspaper The Nation of July 23 as saying that Siem Reap, Battambang, and Sisophon belonged to Thailand.
Unlike the Khmer people, who are native to Southeast Asia, the Thai were emigrants from China. They were one of the ethnic groups from the region of the Yangtze River, and founded the Nanchoa Kingdom in northwest Yunan around the 7th century.
From Nanchoa, the Thai spread to parts of Southeast Asia: to the Shan states of Burma, to northern Thailand and the Chao Phraya valley (until 1939 Siam), to Laos, and to northern Vietnam (Thai Dam or Black Thai, and Thai Deng or Red Thai).
The Kingdom of Nanchoa fell to the Mongol army of Kublai Khan about 1253 and its fall accelerated the movement of the Thai south and eastward, pressing against the Khmer Empire.
Given a choice of fighting the Mongols or the Khmer, the Thai opted to fight the Khmer, believing their chances of survival greater. They won control of the Khmer-Mon territory of Dvarati and Haripunjaya.
The double defeats of the Khmer at Sukhothai in northern Thailand by the celebrated Thai warrior Phra Ruang, and at Haripunjaya by another Thai warrior, Mangrai, led to the foundation of the Thai Kingdoms of Sukhothai in 1238 and Chiangmai in 1296.
Chiangmai maintained its independence as a separate Thai territory until it was conquered by King Phya Taksin in 1775, then absorbed by the Bangkok Kingdom in 1782.
Sukhothai, ruled by King Ramkemhaeng, weakened after his death in 1378, and was absorbed into the new Kingdom of Ayuthaya founded by King Rama Thibodi in 1350. During his reign, from 1350 to1369, he tried many times to take Angkor by force. Even though the Khmer had continually lost territory to the Thai during that time, paradoxically the Khmer culture, art, language, dance, court etiquette, and religion had infiltrated and influenced the Thai people.
In 1417, Po-ea Yat became King at the age of 21 under the full occupation of the Thai at Angkor, the capital of the Khmer empire. He took the name of Borom Reachea II. He fought the occupying Thai army and finally succeeded in chasing the Thai out of Angkor in 1427. However, during the Thai retreat, they took with them thousands of Khmer families, including intellectuals and strong, able bodies, as prisoners - leaving the capital city empty of all but the tired, the weak, and the sick. The Thai strategy was clever: not only did they obtain the use of the best of the Khmer people, but also they weakened the Khmer empire and thwarted further attacks for some time.
In addition, the breeding between the Thai and Khmer yielded offspring of strong physique and intellect. The retreating Thai army occupied the western part of the Khmer territory, namely the provinces of Chanborei, Roy-ng, Baschimborei, and Nokor Reach Sima which the Thai called Chantaboun (or Chantaborei), Roy-ng, Prachin, and Korat. Fearful of having his capital too close to the Thai capital Ayuthaya, King Po-ea Yat moved his capital from Angkor south to Basan, on the East Side of Mekong, in 1431, then a year later moved again to Phnom Penh.
The king made a tactical error by moving the capital of the Khmer empire so far to the east away from the Thai capital: the move signalled his weakness and unwillingness to fight the Thai, and virtually invited them to further encroach on the vast expanse of Khmer territory between the newly established Thai frontier and the new Khmer capital.
For their part the Thais were relatively satisfied with their possessing the four Khmer provinces. In addition, they had their hands full trying to control the newly acquired Khmer population.
After 47 years, King Po-ea Yat abdicated in 1463 in favor of his eldest son, Noreay Reachea II. He reigned until his death in 1468, and was succeeded by his younger brother, Srei Reachea. Unlike his father and elder brother, King Srei Reachea was not content with the diminished kingdom they had left him, and began preparing his army to reconquer the four lost Khmer provinces.
The King ordered his army to attack the kingdom of Ayuthaya in 1475. The Khmer army was to attack the Thai from both sea and land: the King's Samdech Choavea Tolha (prime minister) was to head from Kampot toward Chanborei, while the King would lead the land army personally. He asked his younger brother, Srei Thomma Reachea, to reign in his place during his absence from Phnom Penh.
King Srei Reachea's army crossed through Battambang and Sra Keo and arrived at Nokor Reach Sima (Korat) so swiftly that it took the Thai governor by surprise. Without much of a fight, the Thai surrendered Nokor Reach Sima and Baschimborei to the Khmer army.
King Srei Reachea then concentrated all his forces at Baschimborei (Prachin Buri) to attack Ayuthaya, the Thai capital. He launched many offensives against Ayuthaya but each time the Thai pushed back the Khmer army. While Srei Reachea was busy fighting the Thai at Ayuthaya, his nephew Srei Soriyotei (son of Noreay Reachea) revolted in Phnom Penh. He formed his own army and moved to the eastern side of the Mekong River.
He controlled the provinces of Kampong Siem, Stung Treng, Baray, and Choeung Prey. Not to be outdone by his nephew, Srei Thomma Reachea prevented his brother King Srei Reachea from returning to Phnom Penh and expanded his control over all the provinces on the western side of the Mekong River. After hearing that his brother and nephew had betrayed him, Srei Reachea decided to return to Phnom Penh and asked his generals to take over the governance of the Khmer territory regained from the Thais. Thus in 1478 the Khmer kingdom was ruled by three kings, and Srei Reachea wasted time and energy fighting Srei Soriyotei for 10 years.
The civil war gave the Thai King Maha Chakrabatti his greatest opportunity to weaken the Khmer people once and for all. King Chakrabatti, considering Srei Reachea too powerful and anti-Thai and Srei Soriyotei illegitimate, chose to support Srei Thomma Reachea in this Khmer royal feud. As a result of his support, both Srei Reachea and Srei Soriyotei were defeated, captured and brought back to Ayuthaya, where they died soon after.
But for the rebellion of King Srei Reachea's brother and nephew, Cambodia might have been an empire stretching from Prey Nokor to Ayuthaya. Never again would Cambodia come close to recapturing the lost Khmer provinces from Thailand.
Khmer disunity was the cause of that loss. And we Khmer have never learned from our past mistakes. We fought and still fight among ourselves, and our enemies gain from our troubles. Greed, power, and selfishness have been the downfall of the Khmer race.
Is there a chance for Cambodia to regain Chanborei (Chantaboun), Roy-ng, Baschimborei (Prachin), and Nokor Reach Sima (Korat) from Thailand - and most of South Vietnam back from Vietnam? Realistically, no.
However, there is a chance for Cambodia to regain the trust of all Khmer living anywhere in the world. How can we gain their trust? How can we influence the Thai and Vietnamese policies toward Cambodia?
We must practice a peaceful revolution. We must help people of Khmer descent living in Thailand and Vietnam to organize themselves into political forces that the governments in these two countries cannot ignore.
However, for people of Khmer descent to want to help Cambodia, the Khmer government in Phnom Penh must first get its house in order. A country is powerful if its economy is strong and its social justice is based on fairness and the democratic rule of law. The Phnom Penh government must take the lead. We must follow the example of the way the Japanese and Germans conducted themselves during their reconstruction period after World War II. When Cambodia becomes a nation with an economic strength parallel to Thailand's and a social justice system parallel to the western world's, then the Khmer living in Thailand and Vietnam will have a great affinity.
Khmer Surin and Khmer Krom are like two children separated from their parents during a war. One child was put in an orphanage, the other was adopted. The adopted child may have an easier time than the orphan child growing up, but both long for their parents to come and take them back home.
The adopted child who lives with relatively rich parents may not want to go back home to his real parents if these are poor and drunk. Yes, Cambodia right now is poor, drunk, and undisciplined. The same may be less so for the orphan child, but he nevertheless wishes for good parents. Until the real parents are sober, good providers, full of tender and loving care, then and only then, will the children respect their parents.
I believe that Cambodia can be a good parent to her children. Don't let artificial frontiers separate us: we must be united in spirit and action. One day we will all come back home and rejoice as a united Khmer family. Phnom Penh Post, Issue 8/16, August 6 - 19, 1999.
We Khmers can surely claim our lost lands back from Siamese and Vietnamese through the International Court of Justice. This New Nuclear Age, the people in the world, who really hate the occupation, aggression, plundering/robbing of other people’s lands, are coming closer and closer to each other appearing from other horizon. There are only four Khmer parties who can do these claims of our lost lands from Siamese and Vietnamese are Funcinpec, Samrainsy, Hang Dara and Khmer Front parties who have just made their faithful promises to Khmers during canvassing for 27th July 2003.
Proverb: A watched pot never boils. (If you stand about waiting for something it never seems to happen.) Therefore, KKF was accepted into UNPO in 2001 that was a good sign that they didn’t stand about waiting for something to happen by itself. They really made it happen. Now they requested King Norodom Sihanouk to help them in writing to French parliamentarians to cancel any treaties that they made with Vietnamese imperialism, colonialism and communism during their Terror colonialists Regime from 1863-1954. More interesting events are going to happen to Vietnamese leaders soon. Excellent job, KKF. Buddha protects you all the times! The more you loud your voice, the better voice would be heard to the ears of Preah Indra at the New York UN’s headquarters. And, where there is a killing field, there is UN to help the victims.
Proverb: The pen is mightier than the swords. (Written words are more powerful than weapon.)
Proverb: Two heads are better than one. (Two people can think better than one.)
Proverb: Union is strength. (People who unite with others become stronger than they would be alone.)
Proverb: Where there is a will there is a way. (If you want to do something badly enough, you will find a way of doing it.)
We all Khmers should stop attacking each other for good for nothing. It’s high time for us to be united. The Russian Empire was gone forever into the Hades! Please come to your sense! Wake up to fight against your hereditary enemies to get our lands back so that our next generation can live in peace forever!
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