The survival of the monarchy in Cambodia is little short of remarkable in the light of that country’s modern history. French manipulation of the monarchy and attempts to buttress religion and culture alongside the rise of nationalist youth and Buddhist radicalism was an important precursor to postwar events.
No less momentous for modern Cambodian history was the Vichy French installation of Norodom Sihanouk as king and the elevation under Japan of the putative republican Son Ngoc Thanh. Facing down an armed Issarak-Viet Minh challenge also joined by a dissident prince, it is no less significant that the young King Sihanouk successfully trumped French ambitions by mounting his own “royal crusade” for independence even ahead of the Geneva Settlement of 1954.
Undoubtedly the passing of Norodom Sihanouk on October 15, 2012, at the age of 89 after six decades of close involvement in Cambodian politics has served to refocus attention upon the status of the monarchy in that country, facts not diminished by the actual succession in October 2004 to his son Norodom Sihamoni (b. 1953).
A phoenix float carries the casket of Sihanouk
Though much exoticized and othered as a peaceful realm under the French protectorate, at least alongside the challenges imposed by Vietnamese nationalists, dissent always simmered beneath the surface calm in Cambodia, whether from the overburdened-over taxed peasantry, from the major immigrant communities, from religious radicals within and without the Buddhist hierarchies, or even from scheming royal princes.
Given French manipulations of religion, tradition and even the royal line, a complex political picture emerges, even prior to the Japanese occupation. Japan was even more successful in Cambodia than in the other Indochina states in installing an anti-French republican demagogue, an enigmatic figure whose name recurs in Cambodian history down until the US-backed military coup in Phnom Penh of March 1970.
Thanks to Anglo-French intervention, and Sihanouk’s personality, the post-war outcome in Cambodia was a “royal road to independence” although even that pathway was severely challenged by the Viet Minh and their sometime Issarak (Free Khmer) allies. Yet the royal ascendancy around the Vichy French-anointed monarch, Sihanouk, would also come back to haunt Cambodia, not only in striking a neutral course in the maelstrom of the American war, but also in lending his name to the China-backed anti-Vietnamese communist movement that triumphed in Phnom Penh in 1975.
As this article develops, below the politics of culture or the tendency of the French to buttress neo-traditionalist trends wherever they saw them, emerges a byzantine crossover of royal dynasties, powerful families and cliques that, in many ways, continued to define Cambodian politics through the modern period. It is also true, as Roger Kershaw (2000; 6; 17; 19-20) unveils in a comparative study on the “fortunes” of monarchy in Southeast Asia, that analysis of surviving monarchies (as with Thailand and Brunei alongside Cambodia), should at least account for the “synthetic” alongside the “authentic traditional values” (not excepting even Britain from this analysis).
Watching this movie clip remind me of a project released by the news on “shooting a movie by Hollywood team about the Great Khmer Empire Leader of King Jayavarman VII”.
Among other documentaries on Ancient Khmer and the Great Civilization of Angkor Wat, this movie/documentary is closest to the reality happened during the Angkorian Era especially the reign of King Jayavarman VII. The exposing on the records of base-relief, inscription, stone arts and description of a Mongolian ambassador officially visited the Kingdom including the feature of actual images during that period, make this movie clip extra-ordinary…All Khmers must watch this one.
First of all, I would like to thank the Abbot and Bhikkhu monks of the temple, the executive committees of the Cambodian Canadian Association, the executive committees of the Khmer Canadian Buddhist Cultural Society, the executive committees of the Khmer Canadian Senior Association and the executive committees of the advisory board including all scholarship recipients, students, parents and participants today.
The annual meeting was overviewed and summarized by the President in his remark on how wonderful tasks have been accomplished within this 2012 and it is the concrete pavement for 2013 as well. There are 10 activities that KCYAA has undertaken. Among those, two activities were incorporated with other associations while the rests are proudly organized by the excellent team leaders.
More than this, Vichet who is the Secretary gave detailed speech to the audiences for the Action Plan 2013 that has been endorsed by the executive members. Future plan is the framework of the Khmer Youths Association. Without outlining future plan and achievable framework, we don’t think we have done a proper thing. Planning is very important to looking forward for change and minimize risk for that change.
Thanks for picking up this important question. Of course, this is the existing question and we have no way to change the course of this question. As we all know, foreigner or our competitor in their cultivating for their nation building, they (Thailand and VN) have striven hard to get what they think that thing is their national pride.
Thailand and VN have taken all seconds of possibility to choke us for their benefit. And yes we cannot blame on them because it is the nature of competition and the game of the nation-state.
The important things as we are Cambodians/Khmers must look at ourselves first. We have always looked beyond our own flaws. We have always looked at them and assign blame or point finger at them which this action have only given prowess to them more and more.
So let start our new course on asking “what have we done for our country?”, not to ask “What our country has done for us?”
For that perspective, historically speaking, our country has likely led by the leaders who put their personal/power interest before national interest in the excuse that if they don’t have full power how can they develop the country. This embedded idea is contradictory to other leaders in other countries that their power is flexible in accordance to the need and interest of the nation. Most of the time, our leaders will use the excuse of the national sovereignty to persecute our own nationals. This excuse and rhetoric have been using ever since.
I would like to ask our CAN members here that “what does it mean and its boundary on the concept of sovereignty?”