Today, it is my prestigious moment to have been reading a political, historical personal memos of Ta Meas during the political upheavals of Cambodia in the rival of Annam (Vietnam) and Siam (Thailand). Ta Meas in that time, according to his memos, he was 80 years old in the year of 1828. The book was recompiled and interpreted by Dr. Khing Hok Dy and in his preface, he described that Ta Meas had spent his life gone through at several Khmer monarchs such as Ang Chan, Queen Ang Mey, Ang Duong, Norodom and the beginning of Sisowath throne. Ta Meas’s narrative is simple, folktale style and reflective the destitute conditions of Cambodian people in that time because of internal divisions and outside invasions.
Dr.Khing Hoc Dy pointed out that this memo was published by French Protectorate with the first arrival of Printer Publishing in Khmer in 1907-1908 and the writing structure was slightly disorganized before the introduction of Cambodian first official dictionary in 1938. The significances of Ta Meas’s memo intrigued my thought to the disintegration of Cambodian nation and her territory integrity. Ta Meas was well aware of the distinction of Cambodian race upon the political interfering of Annam and Siam in that time. His brilliant point of view to seek other outside international partners to stabilize and neutralize Cambodia is fit well to the current survival of Cambodia.
There are many countries he mentioned in his memos that King sought to take their hand. Those countries including Europe, England, French, Portugal, Holland, Java, Sumatra, Singapore and Spain. His description is moving with the King’s international expanding to find supports and Cambodian King saw French as his important supporter to get rid of both Annam and Siam.
According to many academic researches of Post-Colonial countries and politics, there have numerous emerges of national identity, nations and nation states. Those are including new emerges of nation-states without linking to its past line and nation-states that has been strongly inherent to its glorious past. Cambodia has resurvived again in the continuity of Khmer race from Angkor era to present nation-state.
Penny Edwards, in her book “Cambodge: The Cultivation of a Nation 1860-1945″ fascinatingly articulates the regeneration of Cambodia to become a nation-state. Penny assumed the language, cultural, monumental and religious factors as the substantial premises leading to the formation of Cambodia. The compartmentalization in each of these factors was well prepared and built by French Protectorate. French has played important role in building a fragile Cambodia into a modern nation-state, Penny assumed.
I recommend every one to read The Memors of Ta Meas, it is really joyful reading book. And if you have time, please read Penny Edwards’s.