Friday, May 31, 2013

The Cambodian Royal Chronicle

85) Lord Chaovar (Talaha1) Poc

(1796--1806)
After King Ang Eng’s death, Cambodia was without ruler-king for 10 years (from 1796-1806) because King Rama I of Siam did not allow any of King Ang Eng’s children to succeed the throne. The reason was that these princes were too young. Therefore, the Siamese court appointed Lord Chaovar Poc to rule Cambodia for the time being.
During the period of Lord Chaovar Poc’s rule, Cambodia was filled with turmoil and chaos. On one hand, the Siamese king, Rama I, obliged Lord Chaovar Poc to send Khmer army to help fight the Burmese. On the other hand, Emperor Gia Long of Vietnam asked the king of Siam to order Lord Chaovar Poc to send Khmer army to help him fight against the Tyson Rebellion. Lord Chaovar Poc obliged to both demands. As a result, people began to rebel against his rule. Many provincial governors began to establish independence fiefdoms and stop paying taxes to the kingdom.
Seeing this dire situation, King Rama I of Siam sent Prince Ang Chan to ascend the Khmer throne. As for Lord Chaovar Poc, he was taken back to Siam and reprimanded for his failure to pacify the Cambodians. Lord Chaovar Poc died at the age of 65.

86) King Ang Chan II
(1806--1834, Oudong)
King Ang Chan II was the oldest son of King Ang Eng. He succeeded the throne in 1806 at the age of 16 under the blessing of the Siamese court. At the same time, Vietnam threatened to wage war with Cambodia unless King Ang Chan II agrees to make the Khmer Kingdom its tributary state. In order to avoid war with Vietnam, King Ang Chan II agreed to the Vietnamese demand.
During King Ang Chan II’s reign, there were numerous conflicts with the Siamese court. The king of Siam ordered the Khmers to send soldiers to help protect Siamese territory. But King Ang Chan II ignored the order. Not only that, he imposed capital punishment on Oknha Krolahom Moeurng and Oknha Chakrey Baen who colluded with prince Ang Snguon and secretly mobilized an army to help Siam. Later on, Techou Moeurng (Oknha Krolahom Moeurng?), Governor of Kompong Svay (now Kompong Thom province), led an uprising against King Ang Chan II. However, he was defeated by the royal army.
In 1814, Siam sent an army to invade and capture the provinces of Mlu Prey, Tonle Pov, and Stung Treng. In 1828, the Governor of Pursat colluded with Siam and asked King Nang Klao (Rama III) of Siam to send an army to invade Cambodia. One year later in 1829, Siam secretly sent an army led by Ponhea Bodin to invade Cambodia. After the Siamese troops captured Pursat, King Ang Chan II fled to Saigon (Vietnam). But, by 1831, Vietnam sent an army to expel the Siamese from Cambodia and returned King Ang Chan II to the throne. King Ang Chan II died in 1834.

87) Queen Ang Mey
(1834--1841, Capital: Oudong)
After the death of King Ang Chan II, there was no heir apparent to the Khmer throne, for King Ang Chan II had no son except for 4 daughters, princesses Ben, Mey, Pov, and Snguon. This delighted both Vietnam and Siam, the two nemeses who wanted to eliminate the royal rulers in Cambodia. The Vietnamese, who were occupying Cambodia, did not allow either Princes Ang Em or Ang Duong to succeed the throne. They instead appointed Princess Ben to succeed her father. However, she declined. Thus, the Vietnamese chose Princess Mey to ascend the throne.
During Queen Ang Mey’s reign, Vietnam appointed a general named Truong Minh Giang to supervise and rule Cambodia. Following order from Emperor Minh Mang of Vietnam, Truong Minh Giang introduced a radical change in Cambodia by forcing the Khmer officials to dress like Vietnamese and ordered them to feed and support the Vietnamese soldiers who were occupying Cambodia. The Vietnamese ordered that the sacred banyan trees be cut down, the statues of Buddha be destroyed, and the name of Capital-to-be Phnom Penh be changed to Nam Giang1.
These radical changes had gone a bit too far that the Khmers could no longer stand the Vietnamese overlord. A general uprising against Vietnamese occupation was ensued and the Vietnamese were eventually expelled from Cambodia. After the expulsion of the Vietnamese, the Khmers repatriated Prince Ang Duong, who was staying in Siam, to ascend the throne in 1841.

88) King Harirak Reamia Thibadey [a.k.a. Ang Duong]
(1841--1860, Capital: Oudong)
King Harirak Reamia Thibadey (Ang Duong hereafter) was the youngest son of King Ang Eng. At the onset of his repatriation from Siam to succeed the Khmer throne, Cambodia had become a pariah state because of ceaseless warfare. The Vietnamese had waged war with Khmers for 6 years from 1841-47. But this conflict was at a stalemate. Thus, King Ang Duong, after being repatriated to succeed the throne, had to wait out for 6 years before he could formally ascend the throne in 1847.
During his succession, both Vietnam and Siam acted as overlords upon the Khmers. Soon after King Ang Duong’s coronation, Siam demanded to annex the provinces of Battambang, Tonle Pov, and Mlu Prey. However, King Ang Duong did not bow to the Siamese demand.
In order to avoid war with both Siam and Vietnam, King Ang Duong decided to put the Khmer Kingdom under France’s protection which, in effect, made Cambodia a French protectorate. After Cambodia became a French protectorate, Vietnam agreed to repatriate Queen Ang Mey and many other members of the royal family, who were taken as hostages, back to Cambodia.
King Ang Duong was a kind, caring, honest, and pacifist ruler. He was a devout Buddhist, a great poet, and was very fond of literature. During his reign, he managed to build a road from Oudong to Kampot, linking the Capital to the sea port, and many other infrastructures for the kingdom. King Ang Duong died in 1860. He was survived by 3 sons, Princes Norodom, Sisowath, and Siwatha.
(To be continued)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

WAR AND GENOCIDE

The Jungle of Refugees (Cont.)
I went to attend the fourth grade in Nong Chan Primary School the next day. It was around mid May of 1985. There were some older students in my class, but they were not as old as I was. The oldest ones were about five years my junior. Because of the Khmer Rouge’s abolition of education and the frequent moves among the refugees who lived in camps along the border, enforcement of the regulation on student’s ages and grade level was lax. Still, people could physically tell that I was the oldest student in the class.


My going to school full time presented a bit of a challenge for me, domestically, for I was expected to perform many household chores. I could tell that Om Kin and Om Ok, the sibling elder with whom I lived, were not happy about my almost day-long absence every day from the house/hut because, when the water trucks arrived, I needed to go fetch water from the communal tanks for our daily use before it all was taken by other camp residents. To ease our concern about water, Vuthda and I used a blue plastic sheet to construct a water container by using bamboo strips to build a large basket and placed the plastic sheet within it to store water. Thus, I was reprieved from being fussed at on failing to fetch enough water for the daily consumption as I would fill our water container to capacity, which could last us for a few days, whenever I had the opportunity to obtain more. As for firewood for cooking, the entire Site 2 camp was fenced off with barbed wires and people were not allowed to venture outside the fences. Therefore, UNBRO had to truck in firewood to provide for every family’s cooking needs. This made my life a bit easier. I would just go to the firewood storage area and presented our family ID card to obtain the wood every week.

After getting my daily routine in place, I began to concentrate on my studies in earnest, in both Khmer and English. The primary school which I attended offered basic level English courses as part of its curriculum. Thus, with the other two private basic level English courses I took, I had a total of three basic level classes going on at the same time. To avoid redundancy, I made sure that the classes I took were given out of different textbooks: one was based on an American textbook called Lado, the other two were based on the British texts called Oxford and Essential English. To remind myself of those formative times, I still keep some of those old English textbooks with me.

Despite my long absence from school, I was able to catch up with the learning process relatively well. However, some subjects such as arithmetic, geometry, biology, and other science-based courses presented tremendous challenges for me. I had a hard time trying to understand the conceptual frameworks of many problems. One of these problems which I dreaded most was courier, a kind of mathematic problem involving runners who started running from point A to point B at different points of departure with different speeds. We needed to figure out how long would it take for runner number two to catch up with runner number one. To this day, I am still unable to master the conceptual framework upon which a formula could be used to solve such problems.

After evaluating myself and assessing my strengths and weaknesses in dealing with the fourth grade courses I was studying, I realized that I needed a lot of help with mathematics and science-related subjects. Thus, I approached a smart young boy named Von Vattara and asked if he would be willing to spend some of his spare times to teach me how to solve complex mathematical problems. Vattara agreed to help me. Each day, Vattara and I would come to class about half an hour before it started and used the time to go over our lessons. Vattara patiently explained to me how to solve mathematical problems by making me write down the different formulae and theorems and memorizing them. He further told me how to look for clues in each problem, and what kind of formula or theorem to use to solve it, accordingly. After a few months of diligent effort and rigorous practice, my ability to deal with fourth grade mathematical problems improved markedly. I was able to solve most problems, if not all.

By about mid August, Om Ok’s wife, Om Ky, along with two of his children and about half a dozen of his grandchildren, arrived in the camp. In the letter, Om Ok had only asked Odom to bring his wife to reunite with him, but, obviously Odom had persuaded his children to come as well. To my absolute surprise, I learned that my mother and younger brother, Buntha, had also attempted to come to the camp. But, because of lack of funds to pay for their passage across the border, my brother was stuck in a Cambodian village near the border along with Om Ok’s adopted daughter and one of his grandchildren while my mother returned to stay with one of my paternal cousins in Phnom Penh. Odom did not come to Site 2, but one of his lieutenants did, to collect trafficking fares from family members of his human cargo. At that point, I realized that my brother and Om Ok’s adopted daughter were kept on the other side of the border to ensure that we pay what was still owed to the smugglers before further services were rendered. I also began to realize why Odom brought Om Ok and me to the border camp almost free in the first place. It was very likely that he knew that the relatives we left behind would eventually come to the refugee camp as well, for life in a communist-ruled country had never been desirable. To this end, Odom was not only a human trafficker but also a shrewd businessman.

After learning of the situation my brother, Buntha, was in, I decided to send whatever money I had to have him come to reunite with me, while informing Heang of my decision. I also asked Heang if he could provide funds for me to arrange to get our mother to come to the camp, for it would be hard for her to return to live in Phum Chi Ro alone after it was known that she had abandoned one political regime for another. It took us a while using snail mail and smugglers as modes of communication to get our messages to one another. In the meantime, Om Ok and his family moved to live in a different house. Om Ky, who was my paternal aunt, insisted that I come to live with her because, as my closest relative, she had an obligation to look after me. So I bade goodbye to Om Kin and went to live with Om Ky and the rest of her family from that point on.

While waiting for news and/or responses from both of my brothers, who lived a world apart, the various primary schools in Site 2 organized the first entrance exam to secondary school. As a fourth grader, I was one of the students among those who would be taking the tests, which lasted for two days. With only several months of learning, I was fully aware that my knowledge on every subject was very weak. Thus, I studied doubly hard in preparation for the exam. This was perhaps my only chance to make my way back to formal education which had been abandoned for ten years. The stakes were quite high for me. I quietly told myself that I must not fail, or I would live as an ill-educated person for the rest of my life.

When the appointed date arrived, we fourth graders all went to take our exam at the only secondary school located in Ampil camp. There were about 300 students coming from three different primary schools taking the exam. During the exam, I was a bit nervous, but I told myself to remain calm. I tackled each subject with confidence even though I was not sure I answered the questions correctly. By the time the exam was concluded, I walked out of the exam room with a feeling that I was doing okay, or at least I thought I was. We had to wait for a few days before the test results were announced, as all the handwritten answers were examined, scores were given, and all the points were tallied up. Before the official score announcement was posted, word was getting out among school officials that three students who held the highest scores had only three-quarters of a point separating them in ranking. Two of the three students were from Phnom Dangrek Primary School while the other was from Nong Chan’s, the school where I attended. As the names of the top three students were revealed, I was astounded to learn that one of the three students was me. Unbelievable! It took me a while to accept the news that it was actually true.

(To be continued)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

ចំណីខួរក្បាល (ប្រចាំសប្តាហ៍)

ឱវាទ ឬ អនុសាសន៍ដែលមានសារប្រយោជន៍បំផុត
តើអនុសាសន៍ប្រភេទណាដែលមានសារប្រយោជន៍បំផុតនោះ ?
ចម្លើយដែលខ្លីនិងងាយចងចាំ គឺអនុសាសន៍ណាដែលមានខ្លឹម
សារផ្ទុយអំពីការចង់បាននិងទង្វើរបស់យើង ។ មូលហេតុដែល
យើងហ៊ានអះអាងដូច្នេះ ព្រោះថាអ្វីដែលផ្ទុយអំពីបំណងនិងទង្វើ
របស់យើង គឺជាសច្ចភាពមួយដែលចង្អុលបង្ហាញនូវគុណវិបត្តិ
និងចំណុចអវិជ្ជមាននានាដែលជាបច្ច័យនាំទៅរកការបរាជ័យ ។
ប្រទេសជាច្រើននៅក្នុងពិភពលោកយើងនេះ (រាប់បញ្ចូលទាំង
ប្រទេសខ្មែរផង) បាននាំគ្នាបង្កើតនូវស្ថាប័ណមួយដែលគេដាក់
ឈ្មោះថា បណ្ឌិតសភាជាតិ (National Academy) ។ តួនាទីនៃស្ថា
ប័នបណ្ឌិតសភាជាតិទាំងនេះ ជាទូទៅ គឺផ្តល់អនុសាសន៍ដល់
រដ្ឋាភិបាល ដើម្បីលើកតម្កើងការដឹកនាំប្រទេសឲ្យមានភាពរីក
ចម្រើនលើគ្រប់វិស័យ ។
នៅសហរដ្ឋអាមេរិក លោកអតីតប្រធានាធិបតី អាប្រាហាំ លីង
កុន បានបង្កើតបណ្ឌិតសភាជាតិនៅឆ្នាំ១៨៦៣ ដើម្បីឲ្យស្ថាប័ន
នេះ ជួយផ្តល់អនុសាសន៍ដល់ក្រសួងមន្ទីរនានានៅក្នុងរដ្ឋាភិបាល
នៃសហរដ្ឋអាមេរិក ។ បើតាមស្ថិតិដែលយើងទទួលបាន បណ្ឌិត
សភាអាមេរិកផ្តល់អនុសាសន៍ ដែលមានរូបភាពជាសៀវភៅ
ឲ្យរដ្ឋាភិបាលអាមេរិក ក្នុង ១ថ្ងៃ ១ក្បាល (គិតជាអត្រាមធ្យម) ។
ចំណុចដែលធ្វើឲ្យយើងចាប់អារម្មណ៍ គឺថា អនុសាសន៍របស់
បណ្ឌិតសភាជាតិអាមេរិកាំងស្ទើរតែទាំងអស់ មានលក្ខណៈជា
ការទិតៀនរដ្ឋាភិបាលអាមេរិកាំងចាប់តាំងពី សេត្តវិមាន រហូត
ដល់ក្រសួងតូចតាច ។ ក៏ប៉ុន្តែ អ្វីដែលធ្វើឲ្យយើងភ្ញាក់ផ្អើលហួស
ពីការស្មាននោះ គឺស្ថិតនៅលើចំណុចដែលថា ថវិកាមួយចំនួនធំ
របស់បណ្ឌិតសភាជាតិអាមេរិកាំង មានប្រភពចេញមកពីរដ្ឋាភិ
បាល ។ តើហេតុអ្វីបានជារដ្ឋាភិបាលអាមេរិក ផ្តល់ថវិកាឲ្យស្ថាប័ន
មួយដែលចេញរបាយការណ៍រិះគន់ទិតៀនខ្លួនជាប្រចាំនោះ ?
យើងបានផ្តល់ចម្លើយនៅខាងដើមអត្ថបទរួចហើយ ។ តែយើង
សូមសង្កត់បន្ថែមថា អនុសាសន៍ដែលយើងមិនចូលចិត្ត គឺជាអនុ
សាសន៍ដ៏ល្អបំផុត ព្រោះវាបានលាតត្រដាងអំពីកំហុសរបស់
យើង ។
នៅក្នុងប្រទេសកម្ពុជា យើងសង្កេតឃើញមានទំនាស់ដ៏ស្រួច
ស្រាវមួយរវាងអ្នកធ្វើរបាយការណ៍សិទ្ធិមនុស្សរបស់អង្គការ
សហប្រជាជាតិ ជាមួយនឹងរដ្ឋាភិបាលខ្មែរ ។ កត្តាចម្បងនៅក្នុង
ទំនាស់នេះ គឺការលាតត្រដាងអំពីការរំលោភបំពានសិទ្ធិរបស់
ពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរ ពីសំណាក់អជ្ញាធរនិងពួកអ្នកមានឥទ្ធិពលមួយចំនួន
ដែលគេហៅថា ឧកញ៉ា ។ ដើម្បីកែតម្រូវកំហុសរបស់មេដឹកនាំ
ខ្មែរដែលតែងតែប្រកាន់យកចរិតជិះជាន់សង្កត់សង្កិតពលរដ្ឋ
របស់ខ្លួននោះ ដំណាងអង្គការសហប្រជាជាតិបានផ្តល់អនុ
សាសន៍ល្អៗយ៉ាងច្រើនដល់ថ្នាក់ដឹកនាំខ្មែរ ។ ប៉ុន្តែ ថ្នាក់ដឹក
នាំខ្មែរមិនត្រឹមតែមិនខិតខំប្រឹងប្រែងអនុវត្តអនុសាសន៍ទាំងនោះ
ដើម្បីកែតម្រូវរាល់កំហុសនានាទេ ពួកគេថែមទាំងព្យាយាម
ដេញដំណាងអង្គការសហប្រជាជាតិ និងព្យាយាមបិទការិយា
ល័យអង្គការសហប្រជាជាតិនៅកម្ពុជាទៀត ។ ទង្វើនេះគឺមិន
ខុសអ្វីពីពាក្យស្លោកមួយឃ្លាដែលពោលថា៖ "ចាក់ចោលអង្ករ
យកអង្កាម" នោះទេ ។ យើងស្តាយណាស់ ដែលថ្នាក់ដឹកនាំខ្មែរ
បច្ចុប្បន្ន មើលមិនយល់អំពី អ្វីដែលមានប្រយោជន៍ និងអ្វីដែល
គ្មានប្រយោជន៍ សម្រាប់ការកសាងជាតិឲ្យបាន រឹតតែរុងរឿង ។
ផ្អែកលើការរីកចម្រើនៃសហរដ្ឋអាមេរិក និងការចំណាយប្រាក់
រាប់លានដុល្លារ (របាយការណ៍អនុសាសន៍របស់បណ្ឌិតសភា
ជាតិអាមេរិកាំង ១លេខ ក្រូវចំណាយពេលសិក្សាប្រមាណ ២ឆ្នាំ
និងថវិកាប្រមាណ ១លានដុល្លារ)  វាបញ្ជាក់ឲ្យឃើញច្បាស់
ណាស់ថា អនុសាសន៍ដែលយើងមិនពេញចិត្ត គឺជាអនុសាសន៍
ដែលល្អបំផុត ។ វាផ្ទុយស្រឡះពីថ្នាក់ដឹកនាំខ្មែរ ដែលមិនត្រឹមតែ
មើលមិនយល់ ថាអនុសាសន៍របស់អ្នកដំណាងអង្គការសហប្រជា
ជាតិ គឺជាអង្ករសម្រឹតដែលគេសម្រាំងយ៉ាងយកចិត្តទុកដាក់ និង
យកមកផ្តល់ឲ្យដោយឥតគិតថ្លៃនោះទេ ពួកគេបែរជាយល់ថា
អង្ករសម្រឹតនោះ ស៊ីមិនកើតទៅវិញ ។ អ្វីដែលល្អសម្រាប់ថ្នាក់
ដឹកនាំខ្មែរ គឺអនុសាសន៍ណាដែលអួតសសើរអំពីភាពភ្លឺស្វាងនៃ
ការដឹកនាំប្រទេស ទោះបីជាការដឹកនាំនោះកំពុងតែនាំជាតិឆ្ពោះ
ទៅរកគ្រោះមហន្តរាយក៏ដោយ ។ នយោបាយ "ចាក់ចោលអង្ករ
យកអង្កាម" នេះ គួរណាស់តែបញ្ចប់ត្រឹមនេះហើយ ប្រសិនបើ
យើងមិនចង់ឃើញប្រទេសខ្មែរ នៅតែស្ថិតក្នុងយុគងងិតតទៅ
ទៀត ៕

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Cambodian Royal Chronicle

79) King Ang Tong II

(1st reign 1747--1749, Capital: Oudong)
King Ang Tong II was the younger brother of King Dhamaraja II. After Prince Ang Ing assassinated King Dhamaraja Ang Im, his attempt to succeed the throne was opposed by members of the royal family and court council. Thus, King Ang Tong II was ascended to the throne instead.
In 1749, two years into King Ang Tong II’s reign, Prince Satha II, who had earlier escaped to Cochinchina, led a Vietnamese army to invade Cambodia. At that time, two of King Ang Tong II’s army commanders named Krolahom Ouk (Governor of Pursat province) and Oknha Sourkia Loke sent him off to stay in Siam while they were leading an army to fight against Prince Satha II’s forces. Prince Satha II was defeated and killed in the battle. Afterward, the two army leaders asked the King of Siam to send Prince Jayajetha V (also known as Ang Snguon) to succeed the throne in Cambodia instead of King Ang Tong II.

80) King Jayajetha IV [a.k.a. Ang Snguon]
(1749--1755, Oudong)
King Jayajetha IV was the son of King Dhamaraja Ang Im. He ascended the throne in 1749. After his succession, King Jayajetha IV appointed the two army leaders, Krolahom Ouk and Oknha Sourkia Loke as warlords. The appointment caused discontent among some court officials who falsely started to accuse the two warlords of betraying the kingdom. King Jayajetha IV believed the accusation and ordered the arrest and capital punishment of the two warlords. Upon learning of the King’s order for their punishment, both Krolahom Ouk and Oknha Sourkia Loke fled to Siam.
Two years later in 1751, a court official named Ksat Ek introduced a disable person as an heir to the throne and instigated an uprising against King Jayajetha IV. However, the uprising was put down by the King’s army and most of the ring leaders were killed. King Jayajetha IV died in 1755.

81) King Ang Tong II
(2nd reign 1756--1757, Capital: Oudong)
King Ang Tong II was the second son of King Jayajetha III. He succeeded the throne in 1756 after the death of King Jayajetha IV. After ruling for one year, King Ang Tong II left Oudong and went to stay in Pursat (province). He subsequently died there in 1757 at the age of 65.
During King Ang Tong II’s reign, a royal intrigue was unfolded. Prince Ang Ing sent people to assassinate Prince Utya Ang Ton who stayed at Oudong. But Prince Utya Ang Ton knew of the plot and escaped to stay in Hatien (present-day Southern Vietnam) with his Chinese foster father named Mactong. Afterward, Mactong and Prince Utya Ang Ton led an army from Cochinchina to fight with Prince Ang Ing’s forces. Prince Ang Ing and many other members of the royal family were captured and killed in the fighting. Only prince Ang Non II, the son of King Jayajetha IV, was able to escape to Siam.

82) King Utyaraja [a.k.a. Ang Ton]
(1758--1775, Capital: Oudong)
King Utyaraja was the son of King Dhamaraja Ang Im. After he and his clique successfully captured and killed Prince Ang Ing along with many other royal family members, he succeeded the throne in 1758.
In order to appease the Vietnamese, King Utyaraja allowed Vietnamese people to establish settlements in the provinces of Sok Trang and Travinh. However, the Vietnamese settlers took the opportunity to move all the way down to Psar Dek and Cho Doc (presently, this territory is part of the southern region of Southern Vietnam).
In 1769, the King of Siam, Preah Chao Ponhea Taksin (Pya Taksin), convinced Prince Ang Non II to lead an army, both by land and by sea, to wage war against King Utyaraja. Fierce fighting between the two rival royal armies broke out. But King Utyaraja’s army was weaker and forced to retreat. King Utyaraja fled to Saigon and directed the war from there. The fighting dragged on for many more years.
Finally, King Utyaraja could no longer bear to see the suffering of his subjects under the war. Thus, he stopped the fighting and let Prince Ang Non II succeed the throne.

83) King Ang Non II
(1775--1779, Capital: Oudong)
King Ang Non II was the son of King Jayajetha IV. He succeeded the throne in 1775. During his reign, a court official name Vibolaraja Srey planned to assassinate him. But King Ang Non II knew of the plot and had Vibolaraja Srey arrested and executed.
After the incident, Lady Long, who was the mother of Vibolaraja Srey, gathered her other four sons namely: Oknha Taen, Governor of Kompong Svay (now Kompong Thom), Lord Moo, Governor of Trang (now Takeo province), Oknha Peang, Chief of Baray district, and Oknha Som, Chief of Prey Kdey district, to extract revenge on King Ang Non II. At the same time, Siam waged war with Laos and asked the Khmer court for military assistance. Because King Ang Non II owed gratitude to the Siamese court, he sent an army to help Siam fight with Laos. Many people were not happy with King Ang Non II’s support of Siam’s war against Laos. Therefore, they, along with many court officials, formed and army to overthrow him. King Ang Non II was overthrown by his subjects in 1779. He was arrested and executed in that same year.

84) King Ang Eng
(1779--1796, Capital: Oudong)
King Ang Eng was the son of King Utyaraja. In 1779, after King Ang Non II was executed, the court council and royal family members agreed to ascend King Ang Eng to the throne. He was only 6 years old at the time.
In 1783, Cambodia plunged into another internal turmoil. Oknha Orchoon, Governor of Thbong Khmom (now Kompong Cham province) had led an army to capture Lord Chaovar Baen and Oknha Krolahom Poc, who was the foster father of King Ang Eng. Realizing that Oknha Orchoon had overwhelming forces, Lord Chaovar Baen asked King Ang Eng to flee to Bangkok, Siam.
Since 1783, Cambodia was without official ruler until 1794 when the Siamese King, Preah Chao Buddhayot Fa (Rama I), re-crowned King Ang Eng and ascended him onto the Khmer throne. Preah Chao Buddhayot Fa appointed Oknha Poc as Lord Chaovea Talaha--an administrator of the Khmer kingdom. Also, Siam had taken two of Cambodia’s provinces, Battambang and Siem Reap, and appointed a Cambodian-born Siamese governor named Ponhea Apheyaphobet Baen to rule this area.
King Ang Eng died of illness in 1796 at the age of 25 years old. He was survived by 5 children, princes Ang Chan, Ang Phim, Ang Snguon, Ang Em, and Ang Duong.
(To be continued)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

WAR AND GENOCIDE

The Jungle of Refugees (Cont.)
The day of reckoning arrived in the afternoon of April 12, 1985. Some rebel soldiers at the frontline came to inform residents in the camp that attack from the Vietnamese soldiers was imminent. Immediately, people started to panic and everyone was leaving his/her hut to seek shelter in the canal which was, at that point of the year, devoid of any water. We were also going along with other people as it was our first experience dodging bullets in the battlefields along the border. Upon reaching the canal, we saw Thai border guards, dressed in black, standing along the canal’s bank with automatic rifles in their hands to prevent people from crossing into Thai territory. Unable to go any further, we all settled either in or on the bank of that canal waiting for the Vietnamese attack. Just as everyone was pushing toward the canal, we heard a couple of explosions on the edge of camp and saw some smoke going up. At that point, people started to cross the canal into Thai territory even though the Thai border guards were pointing their guns at them. We, too, were going along with the flow. We went about a few hundred yards into Thai territory before coming to a stop, for there were no more explosions being heard. From a vantage point, I saw a couple of white men, presumably UNBRO’s staff, negotiating with the Thai military officers. About 15 minutes later, someone with a bullhorn microphone made an announcement telling people to return to the camp and spend the night there waiting until tomorrow when UNBRO would bring in trucks to transport us to a new place. After being told to stay put, we went back into the camp and spent a nervous night there.


Next morning, at about 9 o’clock, we were told to leave the camp in an orderly manner and come to a designated area where transport trucks were coming to pick us up. As we climbed on board one of the trucks, I was a bit jumpy about my fate. In 1979, I once listened to news broadcasted by Voice of America radio (VOA) that Thailand had trucked hundreds of Cambodian refugees from the region around where we were now, brought them to a mountain cliff near Preah Vihear Temple, and forced them to go back into Cambodia where many of them died from lack of food and water or stepping on landmines. For me, that truck ride was also a somber reminiscence of the Khmer Rouge’s transport in the mid 1970s, a trip to the unknown.

Our truck ride took us through many Thai villages. Coincidentally, April 13 was the beginning of a three-day celebration of both Thai and Cambodian New Year. So people in the villages by which we passed were in a festive mood. They cheered and waved at us as if wishing us to have a safe trip to wherever we were going. We traveled for a few hours before the trucks took us to a wooded area where some sorts of crude accommodations were being prepared for our arrival. As we disembarked the truck, I saw familiar water tanks with UNBRO logo on them being placed at strategic locations where people could come to get water for their consumption. Upon seeing those UNBRO water tanks, I breathed a sigh of relief as it appeared that we were still under the care of a United Nations agency.

The new location in which we were resettled was called Site 2 camp. It was situated on the base of the Dangrek Mountain. As I subsequently learned, Site 2 was a huge complex composed of many small camps. Because we left Nong Chan camp so abruptly, our new location had not been prepared yet. Hence, we were lodged in a forest for the time being. That night, it rained cats and dogs, and we all sat miserably under a blue tarp plastic sheet. We spent several days in that forest in which I witnessed a robbery, a casualty of shooting by a Thai security guard, and a beating of Cambodian refugees by a Thai soldier. Life as a refugee in the jungle was really tough. But, being helpless as we were, there was nothing we could do to ensure our safe existence except for praying to a higher being for protection.

Once the new location for our resettlement was ready, we were ordered to move there on foot as it was within walking distance. Our new camp was still called Nong Chan, except that it was part of Site 2 camp. Site 2 camp was further divided in two: North and South. Site 2 North was composed of 5 small camps, Nong Chan, Ampil, Dangrek, Samlor Chhnganh, and Sok Sann while Site 2 South was composed of only one large camp called Bang Phou or Rithy Sen. The whole Site 2 camp complex housed some 200,000 Cambodian refugees. It was a sprawling complex.

As soon as we got settled down in the new camp, I began to look for places where I could begin my English language study. UNBRO had provided support for schooling of Cambodian refugee children for up to the fourth grade, which was the primary level based on Cambodian curriculum. However, some Cambodian camp authorities decided to informally build a secondary school to teach students from grade five to seven. Thus, there were some schooling activities going on in the various camps in Site 2. With some help from my friends, I was able to find a number of private English courses being offered in different shapes and forms. To satisfy my thirst for learning and maximize my chance for success, I decided to enroll in two private basic level English courses concurrently. To also revamp my education in Khmer, my native tongue, I had additionally made attempts to go back to school. One of the challenges for me was that I had been out of school for 10 years now since the day the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia in 1975. I had forgotten most of the subjects, especially arithmetic and geometric formulas, which were needed to pass a placement test. In a rather vain attempt, I went to different schools in the camp to apply for admission to attend school without having to take a placement test. Starting with grade five, I went to see the principal of the secondary school telling her of my situation and pleading with her to let me attend grade five without having to take a placement test. It was to no avail. Dejected, I went to one of the primary schools located in Ampil camp and asked if I could be admitted to attend grade four without having to take a placement test. The principal insisted that I must take the test if I wanted to go back to school. Unable to convince those school principals to let me attend classes without taking a placement test, I reluctantly took the test and failed miserably. The teacher who administered the test gave me some fourth grade level geometry and arithmetic problems to solve. I failed to get even one of them done. I still remember one of the problems vividly -- it was finding the area of a rectangle. Seeing that I was not capable of attending the fourth grade, the teacher suggested that I should attend the third grade, if I wanted, and he would enter my name on the roster. I agreed with his suggestion and went to sit with the third graders for the rest of the day. As soon as I entered the classroom, I realized that I was out of my element. The classroom teacher was about my age and all the students were looking at me in amusement. After the class was dismissed at noon, I went home and made a resolute decision not to return to attend that third grade class again.

Despite all the disappointment with my attempts and failure to go back to school, I decided to make one last attempt to attend the fourth grade. This time, I went to seek enrollment at the Nong Chan’s primary school which had just been built and resumed teaching its small numbers of students. To my absolute relief, the registrar did not ask me to take a placement test. Because of my mature look, he just probably assumed that I was ready to sail through the fourth grade. The only question he asked me was whether I belonged to any rebel force regiment. After I told him that I had never joined any rebel force, he gave me a piece of registration paper to fill out indicating the place where I was born and date of birth. While filling the registration form for school enrollment, I made a quick calculation between my age and the age in which a student would be allowed to take a high school exit exam to receive a diploma. Traditionally, Cambodian students must not be older than 18 years old when they were taking an exam for their high school diploma. I was 21 years old at that point and still attending the fourth grade. Without giving it much thought, I decided to roll my age back 5 years, and put my date of birth in 1969 instead of 1964, my actual birth date. At 16 in the fourth grade, I would still be a couple more years older than the age limit of 18 when all students must take the exam for their high school diploma, provided that I made it to the eighth grade without failing. I should point out that to make up for time lost during the Khmer Rouge’s rule, Cambodian education curriculum from elementary through high school was shortened to eight years instead of twelve.

Aside from running short on time to make it through high school, I also had another problem to contend with. My new date of birth fell on the same year of my younger brother’s, Buntha, birth date. He was born in 1969. But Buntha was living in Cambodia, and the chance for us to reunite and be together again was remote, anyway. Besides, if we were to reunite and had to sort out our ages, officially, I didn’t think Buntha would mind giving up a couple years of his age to give me a chance to educationally redeem my life. Thus, with a quick fix on my date of birth and an admission to attend the fourth grade, I gained a new lease on my education and my future.

At 21 years old, I was probably the oldest fourth grader in the world. Also, I was probably one of the most ambitious persons to dream about becoming a writer and writing books in the English language, of which I had just begun learning the ABCs. Naively, knowing that I had an opportunity to learn and acquire knowledge, I thought I was going to eventually fulfill my dream. I had never thought about failure; and it somehow didn’t cross my mind. I was so preoccupied with preparing myself to engage in education that I completely forgot about where I was, and how I was going to overcome the obstacles I would encounter. For me, it appeared that ignorance was really bliss.

(To be continued)

Monday, May 13, 2013

ចំណីខួរក្បាល (ប្រចាំសប្តាហ៍)

មេដឹកនាំចោលម្សៀត
ពាក្យចោលម្សៀត គឺសំដៅលើអ្វីៗដែលអត់បានការ ឬ ឥតប្រ
យោជន៍ ។ បើគេនិយាយអំពីមនុស្ស គឺសំដៅទៅលើបុគ្គលណា
ដែលធ្វើអ្វីមួយមិនបានសម្រេច ។ និយាយឲ្យចំគឺ មនុស្សអសមត្ថ
ភាព ។
នៅក្នុងអំឡុងពេលជិតកន្លះសតវត្សរ៍កន្លងទៅនេះ ប្រទេសកម្ពុជា
បានផ្លាស់ប្តូររបៀបគ្រប់គ្រងរដ្ឋជាច្រើនដង ប៉ុន្តែ ការផ្លាស់ប្តូររបៀប
គ្រប់គ្រងរដ្ឋជាច្រើនដងនេះ មិនត្រឹមតែមិនបានផ្តល់នូវសុខមាល
ភាពដល់ប្រទេស និងពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរតែប៉ុណ្ណោះទេ វាថែមទាំងធ្វើឲ្យ
ប្រទេស និងពលរដ្ឋខ្មែររងគ្រោះមហន្តរាយយ៉ាងធ្ងន់ធ្ងទៀតផង ។
យើងអាចយកហេតុផលផ្សេងៗមកការពារការបរាជ័យនៃកំណែ
ទម្រង់របៀបគ្រប់គ្រងរដ្ឋនៅកម្ពុជា ប៉ុន្តែ អ្វីដែលជាកត្តាបញ្ជាក់អំពី
ភាពចោលម្សៀតនៃមេដឹកនាំខ្មែរ គឺស្ថិតនៅលើភស្តុតាងប្រវត្តិ
សាស្ត្រដែលយើងសូមលើកយកមករៀបរាប់ត្រួសៗ ខាងក្រោម
នេះ៖
កាលពីឆ្នាំ ១៩៧០ ដល់ឆ្នាំ ១៩៧៥ លោកសេនាប្រមុខ លន់
ណុល បានរៀបចំប្រទេសកម្ពុជាឲ្យដើរតាមគន្លង សាធារណរដ្ឋ
និយម ដើម្បីស្វែងរកសេរីភាពជូនប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរ ។ ប៉ុន្តែ របប
សាធារណរដ្ឋរបស់លោក លន់ ណុល មានត្រឹមតែឈ្មោះប៉ុណ្ណោះ
ឯការគ្រប់គ្រង គឺនៅតែលម្អៀងទៅរកភាពផ្តាច់ការ ដូចជារបបរា
ជានិយមដែលលោក លន់ ណុល រំលាយចោលនោះដដែល ។
នៅទិបំផុត សាធារណរដ្ឋរបស់លោក លន់ ណុល ក៏វិនាសអន្ត
រាយទៅ ។
បន្ទាប់ពីការដួលរលំនៃរបបសាធារណរដ្ឋ ប្រទេសខ្មែរក៏ត្រូវបាន
គ្រប់គ្រងតាមរបៀបកុម្មុយនីស្តវិញម្តង ដែលមានលោក សាឡុត
ស (ឬ ប៉ុល ពត) និងបរិវាជាអ្នកដឹកនាំ ។ ប៉ុល ពត និងបរិវាបាន
ដាក់ឈ្មោះប្រទេសខ្មែរថា កម្ពុជាប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ ។ ប៉ុន្តែ អ្វីដែល
គួរឲ្យឈឺចាប់នោះ គឺកម្ពុជាប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ​ យកលទ្ធិកុម្មុយនិស្ត
មកបំផ្លិចបំផ្លាញស្រុកខ្មែរស្ទើរតែរលាយសូន្យតែម្តង ។ ពួកគេ
ឃោសនាថា យកលទ្ធិកម្មុយនិស្តមកធ្វើជាគោលការដឹកនាំប្រ
ទេស គឺដើម្បីបំបាត់វណ្ណៈជិះជាន់ ដែលមានពួក សក្តិភូមិ នាយ
ទុនប្រតិកិរិយា ជាមេខ្លោង និងបំបាត់ឲ្យអស់នូវអំពើពុករលួយ
គ្រួសារនិយម និង បក្សពួកនិយម ។ ក៏ប៉ុន្តែ អ្វីដែលជាធាតុពិត
នោះ គឺគេគ្រាន់តែយកលទ្ធិកុម្មុយនិស្តមកធ្វើជាឡប់ឡែតែ
ប៉ុណ្ណោះ ។ រីឯការអនុវត្តន៍វិញ ប៉ុល ពត និងបរិវា ជិះជាន់ពលរដ្ឋ
ខ្មែរខ្លាំងជាងពួកសក្តិភូមិ នាយទន់ប្រតិកិរិយាទៅទៀត ។ បើនិ
យាយអំពីគ្រួសារនិយម និងបក្សពួកនិយមវិញ គឺរកលេខដាក់
គ្មានទេ ។ ប្រទេសខ្មែរមួយទាំងមូល ត្រូវបានគ្រប់គ្រងដោយ
មនុស្ស ដែលមានជាប់សែស្រឡាយនៅក្នុងគ្រួសារចំនួន ៤ ឬ ៥
គ្រួសារតែប៉ុណ្ណោះ ។
លុះដលឆ្នាំ ១៩៧៩ ប្រទេសខ្មែរក៏ចាប់ផ្តើម រុះរើធ្វើវិសោធណកម្ម
តាមលទ្ធិកុម្មុយនីស្តសាជាថ្មី ដោយមានប្រទេស វៀតណាម ជាអ្នក
ជួយជ្រោមជ្រែង ។ មួយទសវត្សក្រោយមក ការគ្រប់គ្រងតាមរបៀប
កុម្មុយនិស្តថ្មីនេះ ក៏នៅតែមិនរីកចម្រើន ។ នៅទីបំផុត មេដឹកនាំខ្មែរ
ដែលមាននិន្នាការចម្រុះ ក៏សម្រេចបង្កើតរចនាសម្ព័ន្ធថ្មីមួយទៀត
ដោយយកលទ្ធិរាជានិយម និង ប្រជាធិបតេយ្យនិយម មកធ្វើជា
គោល ។
បើគិតមកទល់នឹងពេលបច្ចុប្បន្ន ការគ្រប់គ្រងប្រទេសខ្មែរ តាម
របៀបថ្មីនេះ គឺមានរយៈពេល ជាងពីរទសវត្សហើយ ។ ក៏ប៉ុន្តែ រូប
ភាពនយោបាយនៅក្នុងស្រុកខ្មែរហាក់ដូចជាគ្មានប្រែប្រួលទេ ។
អ្នកគ្រប់គ្រងនៅតែប្រកាន់ចរិតផ្តាច់ការដដែល ។ អំពើពុករលួយ
បើយើងប្រៀបធៀបទៅនឹងរបបមុនៗ គឺមានវិសាលភាពធំជាង
ឆ្ងាយណាស់ (រកលេខដាក់គ្មានទេ) ។ ឯរឿងគ្រួសារនិងបក្សពួក
និយមវិញ ក៏មិនចាញ់របបមុនៗ ប៉ុន្មានដែរ ។ និយាយរួម ភាព
ចោលម្សៀតរបស់មេដឹកនាំខ្មែរ គឺនៅតែចោលម្សៀតដដែល ។
យកលទ្ធិណាមួយមកធ្វើជាគោលការដើម្បីដឹកនាំប្រទេស ក៏ធ្វើ
មិនកើត ។ បានត្រឹមតែឧទានទ្រឹស្តី ។ រីឯការអនុវត្តន៍វិញ គឺ សូន្យ
ហ្សេរ៉ូ ណាដា ។ នេះ បានចំជាចោលម្សៀតមែន ! ។
បើយើងធ្វើការសង្កេតឲ្យបានល្អិតល្អន់ ភាពចោលម្សៀតរបស់មេ
ដឹកនាំខ្មែរ គឺផុសចេញអំពីកត្តារួមមួយ ដែលយើងអាចកត់សម្គាល់
បានថា ស្ថិតនៅលើចរិតផ្តាច់ការ ។ បើមេដឹកនាំខ្មែរអាចបោះបង់
ចោលចរិតផ្តាច់ការចេញ ពួកគេប្រហែលជាអាចកាត់បន្ថយ ភាព
ចោលម្សៀតរបស់ពួកគេបានយ៉ាងច្រើន ។​ ហើយប្រទេសកម្ពុជា
និងពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរ ប្រាកដជាអាចរកឃើញពន្លឺសេរីភាព និង សុខមាល
ភាពពេញលេញនៅក្នុងជីវិតជាមិនខាន៕

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Cambodian Royal Chronicle

71) King Ang Jaya [II]

(1673--1675, Capital: Oudong)
After the Cham/Javanese uprising which killed Prince Jayajetha, the royal family members selected King Ang Jaya II who was the older brother of Prince Jayajetha to succeed the throne in 1673.
King Ang Jaya II ruled for roughly two years when, in 1675, Prince Ang Non II and his younger brother, Prince Ang Ton, with the aid of Vietnamese troops, rebelled against him. King Ang Jaya II died in battle in that same year.

72) King Jayajetha III
(1675--1706, Capital: Oudong)
King Jayajetha III was the son of King Botumaraja (II?). After successfully defeating Prince Ang Non II and his clique, he succeeded the throne in 1675.
Prince Ang Non II escaped to Saigon (Vietnam) and found ally with the Vietnamese. In an attempt to usurp the throne, he recruited Vietnamese and Chinese minorities to help him wage war against Cambodia several times but to no avail. Finally, he surrendered to King Jayajetha III. King Jayajetha III accepted his surrender and let him stay in Srey Santhor for the rest of his life.
After the surrender of Prince Ang Non II, Cambodia experienced tranquility for a while until 1699 when a disloyal officer named Oknha Norin Im colluded with the Vietnamese army and rebelled against King Jayajetha III. But the rebellion did not succeed and Oknha Norin Im and his army were dispersed.
During his 31-year reign, King Jayajetha III had abdicated twice, one in 1700 in favor of his second nephew, and the other was between 1702 and 1704 in favor of his son. Both abdications did not last, so King Jayajetha III had to return to resume his reign until 1706 when his son, King Dhamaraja II was able to take charge of the throne.

73) King Ang Im
(1st reign 1700--1701, Capital: Pursat)
King Ang Im was the son of Prince Ang Non II. His mother was an ethnic Chinese. He succeeded the throne in 1700 after his second uncle, King Jayajetha III abdicated in favor of him. But, King Ang Im reigned for only one year when, in 1701, he returned the throne to his uncle King Jayajetha III.

74) King Dhamaraja II
(1st reign 1702-04, 2nd reign 1706--1710, Capital: Oudong)
King Dhamaraja II was the son of King Jayajetha III. After King Ang Im returned the throne to him, King Jayajetha III, in 1702, abdicated once again in favor of his son, King Dhamaraja II. However, King Dhamaraja II was only 12 years old at the time. So, he took the throne for only 2 years then returned it to his father, King Jayajetha III.
It was until 1706 that King Dhamaraja II succeeded the throne. In the beginning of his reign, a group of Laotians who lived in Baray Kbot Chum village revolted. King Dhamaraja II sent an army to put down the revolt and sent most of the rebels running. Some of the rebels went to seek refuge with crowned Prince Ang Im. At that point, Prince Ang Im seized the opportunity by sending the leader of the Laotian rebels to recruit an army among the Vietnamese who were settling in the southern territory (present-day Southern Vietnam).
Prince Ang Im recruited about 20,000 Vietnamese soldiers along with the Laotian rebels and led them to besiege Oudong. King Dhamaraja II was captured in that siege. However, he was, along with his son and his younger bother, Prince Ang Tong, able to escape to Siam in 1710.

75) Prince Ang Im
(2nd reign 1710--1722, Capital: Oudong)
Prince Ang Im was the son of Prince Ang Non II. After overthrowing King Dhamaraja II, he succeeded the throne in 1710.
During the early period of his reign, the king of Siam sent an envoy with a letter asking Prince Ang Im to relinquish the throne to King Dhamaraja II. But, Prince Ang Im ignored the message. Later on in 1722, the king of Siam sent an army to dethrone Prince Ang Im in order to reinstall King Dhamaraja II in the Khmer court.
With the aid of the Vietnamese soldiers, Prince Ang Im faced off with the Siamese army in Pursat province. However, his army was overwhelmed by the Siamese army. Hence, Prince Ang Im acquiesced to the Siamese and promise to make Cambodia a tributary state of Siam. His action caused outrages among both court officials and ordinary people. To diffuse the tension, Prince Ang Im abdicated in 1722 in favor of his son, prince Satha II.

76) Prince Satha II [a.k.a. Ang Jaya]
(1722--1738, Capital: Oudong)
Prince Satha II was the son of Prince Ang Im. He succeeded the throne in 1722 after his father, Prince Ang Im, abdicated under public pressure. However, in 1729, Prince Ang Im returned to the throne and resumed the rule for another 7 months before public pressure forced him to abdicate once again. Prince Satha II resumed his reign from this point on.
In 1730, a Laotian living in Brosaut village, Ba Phnom district (Prey Veng province) instigated a group of Khmers to massacre the Vietnamese. This incident gave Vietnam a pretext to wage war with Cambodia. But, the Vietnamese did not succeed in subduing the Khmers; thus they retreated to the provinces of Vinh Long and My Tho.
In 1738, Prince Satha II suspected his wife, Princess Sri Socheata, of colluding with members of the Utya’s family to overthrow him. Hence, he plotted to kill them. However, Princess Sri Socheata and the Utya’s family knew of his plan and organized an uprising against the throne. Prince Satha II was losing in the struggle and eventually fled to Cochinchina (present-day Southern Vietnam). After toppling Prince Satha II from power, Princess Sri Socheata and the rest of the royal family members agreed to return King Dhamaraja II who was staying in Siam to ascend the throne.

77) King Dhamaraja II
(3rd reign 1738--1747, Capital: Oudong)
After Prince Satha II was overthrown in 1738, King Dhamaraja II returned to succeed the throne for the third time. Upon taking the rule, he appointed his son, Ang Im, as crowned prince (Preah Keovar) and his younger brother and his son, princes Ang Tong II and Utya, as heirs apparent.
During King Dhamaraja II’s third reign, Cambodia was at peace for a brief period of time until his death in 1747.

78) King Dhamaraja Ang Im
(1747, Capital: Oudong)
King Dhamaraja Ang Im was the son of King Dhamaraja II. He succeeded the throne in 1747 after the death of his father. But, his reign did not last. In that same year, his half brother, Prince Ang Ing, assassinated him in an attempt to usurp the throne.
Prince Ang Ing was also the son of King Dhamaraja II with a Siamese mother. He was also known as Prince Sri Suryau.
(To be continued)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

WAR AND GENOCIDE

The Jungle of Refugees

Nong Chan camp was located on a strip of no man’s land straddling the border of Cambodia and Thailand. Based on personal survey of the areas I realized that both Thailand and Cambodia had dug small canals, about 15 feet wide, along their common border. In between and along those canals, they left a strip of land, about one mile wide, as a buffer zone. The actual border was somewhere along that one mile wide strip of land. Besides acting as a buffer zone, that strip of no man’s land was where rebel forces and bandits based their operations. It was also where Cambodian refugees were forced to stay. Based on what I learned from the camp’s residents, there were many camps, like the one we were in, scattering along the one mile-wide strip of that buffer zone border. Each camp was named after either the Thai or Cambodian village near which it was located. For instance, Nong Chan camp was name after a Thai village. It used to be located several miles to the north of where we were, but after the Vietnamese armed forces shelled the camp earlier in the year, people moved to the current location to get away from the artillery barrages. To get as far away from the Vietnamese artillery range as possible, the new Nong Chan camp was situated along the eastern bank of the Thai-built canal. All the refugees were strictly forbidden to cross to the other side of that canal, since it would be absolutely on Thai soil there. To bring relief supplies to the Cambodian refugees, UNBRO, United Nations for Border Relief Operation, had to build an earthen bridge across the canal so that trucks could bring water and food to feed the desperate refugees. Only a small clinic was allowed to be located on the western bank of the canal (Thai soil) opposite the camp as most of the doctors, nurses, and medics, who came to provide medical help to the refugees, were international volunteers.

Life in the camps along the border was harsh. People could be killed for just being out and about in the forests. Dangers were everywhere. One could be robbed, raped, and abused in every way imaginable. After all, we were in the jungle and under the protection of heavily armed rebels. Hence, under such condition, jungle law tended to prevail. Given the fact that there were so many armed men walking around without any effective law to regulate their conduct, the refugee camp and the surrounding jungle became a volatile ground for violent crime to occur. However, despite the apparent lawlessness, security in the camp was relatively well-maintained. Aside from domestic violence and occasional kidnapping, we rarely heard of people being robbed or killed inside the camp. The only real danger was when one ventured outside the camp to trade or forage for firewood in the forests where armed men, rebels and bandits alike, were lurking about.

There were about 20,000 people living in Nong Chan camp. It was a fairly large camp. New comers, like us, appeared to arrive in the camp almost on a daily basis as was evidenced by the fact that new huts were erected on the camp’s perimeter. As soon as we arrived in the camp, we immediately sent letters to our relatives in the U.S. to inform them of our whereabouts and the situation we were in. The main concern for all of us was money to buy food, without which we would starve to death in that jungle no man’s land. There were of course food rations being distributed to refugees by UNBRO to stave off starvation and calamity in the camp. But those food rations were given to women and girls only. All the men and boys who lived in the camp had to fend for themselves. I did not know who set such a policy in place; but that discriminatory practice lasted until the day I left for the U.S. in 1989.

Among the four of us, only Om Kin, the sole female, was qualified to receive food ration, a 14 pound sack of rice and five small cans of tuna, from UNBRO each week. Therefore, we had to find some way to get some more foodstuffs to feed the rest of us men. Luckily, a lot of families in the camp had many females in their numbers which enabled them to receive more rations than they could consume. As a result, we were able to barter or buy foodstuffs from other camp residents rather easily as long as we had the money. Some kindhearted residents even gave us their surplus ration on a weekly basis.

It took about a month or so for correspondences via air mail letters to reach each other, depending on how promptly our relatives in the U.S. sent their replies. After sending a letter to my brother, Heang, I was waiting anxiously for his response. In the meantime, as a dependant, I was made to take care of the household chores such as going to fetch water from the water trucks, which arrived at the edge of camp from about ten a.m. to two p.m., or going to find wood in the forests nearby to be used as fuel to cook our meals. I must say that every time I went to find firewood in the forest, I was scared of landmines. But it was a chore that somebody had to do. And I was made to be that somebody. So with prayer, I carefully went to collect firewood in the forest once every few days.

By late February, we all received letters from our relatives in the U.S. As expected, along with those letters, there was some money for us to buy food. Heang sent me $50, a tiny sum. But I wasn’t disappointed because I had been living without any money for a couple of months. The small bits of gold, the only currency I had, had been given to Odom, our trafficker, since we were in Phnom Penh. After experiencing what it was like to live without money to buy even the most basic things such as shoes (I lost my shoes during the debacle on my first attempt to cross the border and had to walk barefoot for about a month) the $50 I received from my brother, while converted to Thai currency, baht, which was being used in the camp, was a significant amount for me. I gave Om Kin about $30 worth of Thai money to help defray our monthly costs of foods and used the rest to buy myself some second hand clothes as I had been wearing the same clothes since the day I left home.

In his letter, Heang told me that he could not sponsor me to come to the U.S. because he was now legally no longer my blood brother. He had come to the U.S. as one of the sons of an elderly woman. Therefore, he had officially no other parents or siblings. His new name now was Wattana Sar. However, he would continue to find ways to help me come to the U.S. to reunite with him. Upon learning of my brother’s situation vis-à-vis my situation, I was both distressed and in despair. I had come a long way, crossing so many perils, just to learn that where I wanted to go was no longer possible. But a refugee camp was not a place for despair; it had already been a desperate place.

After learning of my fate, I sent another letter to Heang telling him that it would be okay for me to stay in the camp indefinitely. However, I would like to learn some skills while being stuck here doing nothing. One of these skills was the English language so that if I were lucky to be able to come to the U.S., which was now beyond my wildest imagination, I would at least have some ability to communicate and make a living there. In his response on the next letter, Heang agreed to my suggestion and sent me some more money to pay for private English courses which were being offered informally by some camp’s residents who had acquired English language skills from interacting with international volunteers.

Om Ok and Om Kin, on the other hand, had better news than me. Their children, who were living in the United States as well, were very excited to learn of their presence in the refugee camp. Their children were telling them to stay put while they were preparing paperwork to send to the U.S. Embassy in Thailand requesting approval for their parent’s immigration to the United States. Because Om Ok was here alone without his wife, Om Ky, who was my father’s older sister, his children asked that he arranged to get her to the camp as well. After receiving request from his children to bring his wife to the refugee camp, Om Ok sent a letter to Odom asking him to go all the way to Kompong Cham province to fetch his wife. Since Odom went to Kompong Cham province to fetch Om Ok’s wife, I decided to send a letter to my mother as well informing her of my safe arrival in a refugee camp. In my letter, I mentioned nothing about my plight in the refugee’s limbo lest my mother worry.

After getting letters informing my relatives on both ends of the universe sent, my anxiety had somewhat subsided. Therefore, I began to look at some bulletins advertising English courses being offered. However, before I was to begin taking English courses, word came around that the Vietnamese soldiers were preparing to attack the camp again. It was early April, the driest time of the dry season, which made it easy for Vietnamese troops to move their tanks and artillery batteries around. Reports from the frontlines indicated that a significant number of Vietnamese tanks had been moving to the area where our camp was located. Upon learning of the Vietnamese troops’ movement, everyone was on edge and prepared for yet another flight. Using money Heang sent me, I went to the market and purchased a backpack along with a small blanket, a hammock, and some other provisions one might need to survive in the jungle. I packed all my belongings into the backpack and kept it within easy reach just in case we needed to run away from the Vietnamese artillery shells in a hurry.

(To be continued)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

ចំណីខួរក្បាល (ប្រចាំសប្តាហ៍)

ជំនួយនិងប្រាក់កម្ចីរបស់ចិន
នៅក្នុងកំឡុងពេលប៉ុន្មានឆ្នាំកន្លងមកនេះ យើងសង្កេតឃើញ
ប្រទេសកម្ពុជាទទួលយកជំនួយនិងប្រាក់កម្ចីពីប្រទេសចិនរាប់រយ
លានដុល្លារ ។ នៅក្នុងទំហ៊ំទឹកប្រាក់ដែលចិនផ្តល់ឲ្យកម្ពុជានេះ
ភាគច្រើនគឺជាប្រាក់កម្ចី ។ ឯប្រាក់ជំនួយ គឺមានតិចតួចទេ ដាក់
ភ្ជាប់ជាមួយនឹងប្រាក់កម្ចីប្រៀបដូចជាគេដាក់ផ្កាភ្ញីនៅលើចាន
ម្ហូបអ៊ីចឹង ។ ក្នុងនាមជាកូនខ្មែរ យើងត្រេកអរណាស់ចំពោះអំពើ
សប្បុរសធម៌របស់ប្រទេសចិនមកលើកម្ពុជា ។ ប៉ុន្តែ អ្វីដែលធ្វើ
ឲ្យយើងអាក់អន់ចិត្តនោះ គឺលក្ខ័ន្ត ឬក៏ទង្វើរបស់ប្រទេសចិនមក
លើកម្ពុជាដែលជាកូនបំណុលរបស់ខ្លួន ។
បើយើងធ្វើដំណើរជំវិញស្រុកខ្មែរក្នុងពេលបច្ចុប្បន្ននេះ យើងនឹង
សង្កេតឃើញថា ផ្លូវថ្នល់និងស្ពានដែលទើបនឹងបានសាងសង់រួច
ឬក៏កំពុងសាងសង់ ភាគច្រើនគឺសាងសង់ឡើងដោយប្រើថវិកា
ដែលបានមកពីការខ្ចីបុលលុយរបស់ចិន ។ ភ្ជាប់ជាមួយនឹងបំ
ណុលដ៏ច្រើនលើលលុបនេះ ប្រទេសចិនក៏បានផ្តល់មកឲ្យកម្ពុជា
នូវក្រុមហ៊ុននិងបុគ្គលិកជនជាតិចិនជាច្រើនរយនាក់ផងដែរ ។ បើ
យើងសង្កេតមើលក្រុមពលករដែលកំពុងសាងសង់ស្ពានជ្រោយ
ចង្វាថ្មីនិងកំណាត់ផ្លូវជាតិលេខ ៦ ពីគល់ស្ពានជ្រោយចង្វាភាគ
ខាងកើតទៅទល់នឹងថ្នល់កែង ព្រែកក្តាម យើងមើលឃើញថា
បុគ្គលិកសាងសង់ស្ពាននិងផ្លូវនេះ  ភាគច្រើនគឺជាជនជាតិចិន ។
បុគ្គលិកដែលជាជនជាតិខ្មែរ គឺមានមិនច្រើនទេ ហើយភាគច្រើន
ច្រើនតែជាអ្នកធ្វើការងារកំប៉ិកកំប៉ុកដែលទទួលប្រាក់កម្រៃទាបតែ
ប៉ុណ្ណោះ ។ យើងមិនដឹងថា អ្នកដទៃគេមើលឃើញរូបភាពនេះ ថា
ជាបញ្ហាដែរឬទេ តែសម្រាប់យើង យើងយល់ថា វាជារឿងមួយ
អយុត្តិធម៌ណាស់សម្រាប់ប្រទេសនិងពលរដ្ឋកម្ពុជា ។ ប្រាក់កម្ចីចិន
ក្រុមហ៊ុនចិន និងបុគ្គលិកសំខាន់ៗជាជនជាតិចិនទៀត ។ នេះមិន
ខុសអ្វីពីពាក្យខ្មែរមួយឃ្លាដែលពោលថា៖ "ឲ្យហើយ យកវិញ" នោះ
ទេ ។ យើងឧស្សាហ៍ឮថ្នាក់ដឹកនាំកំពូលរបស់ខ្មែរនិយាយអំពី
ម៉ាក់ក្រូអេកូណូមិក នយោបាយឈ្នះ ឈ្នះ ។ តើឈ្នះខ្មោចយក៍អី ?
អ្នកដែលឈ្នះនោះគឺប្រទេស ចិន ។ ឯអ្នកដែលធ្វើម៉ាក់ក្រូអេកូណូ
មិក បានផលប្រយោជន៍ធំនោះ ក៏ចិនដែរ ។ មូលហេតុដែលយើង
ហ៊ានអះអាងដូច្នេះ គឺផ្អែកលើហេតុផលដូចតទៅ៖
រាល់វិនិយោគធំៗដូចជាការសាងសង់ទំនប់វារីអគ្គីសនីដែលចិនឲ្យ
កម្ពុជាខ្ចីប្រាក់យកមកធ្វើនោះ ភាគច្រើនគឺធ្វើផ្អែកលើគោលការ
កសាងប្រើប្រាស់ និង ផ្តល់ឲ្យ (BOT) ដែលមានរយៈពេល ៣០
ឆ្នាំ។ មានន័យថា ប្រាក់ដែលខ្មែរខ្ចីចិនយកមកកសាងទំនប់វារីអគ្គី
សនីនោះ គឺក្រុមហ៊ុនចិន (ឬប្រទេសចិន) ជាអ្នកសង់ឲ្យ រួចហើយ
ក្រុមហ៊ុននោះនឹងធ្វើអាជីវកម្មលក់ភ្លើងអគ្គីសនីឲ្យខ្មែរអស់រយៈ
ពេល ៣០ឆ្នាំទៀត ទើបប្រគល់សមិទ្ធផលនេះមកឲ្យប្រទេសខ្មែរ
កាន់កាប់និងអាស្រ័យផល ។ ទម្រាំតែដល់ពេលប្រគល់មកឲ្យខ្មែរ
ដើម្បីអាស្រ័យផល ទំនប់វារីអគ្គីសនីនោះ នឹងត្រូវដល់ពេលជួស
ជុលល្មម ដើម្បីដំណើរការតទៅមុខទៀត ។ ដូច្នេះ ប្រទេសខ្មែរចាំ
បាច់ត្រូវតែទិញគ្រឿងបន្លាស់ពីប្រទេស ឬក្រុមហ៊ុនចិន ដែលជា
អ្នកកសាងគ្រឿងចក្រនៅលើទំនប់វារីអគ្គីសនីទាំងប៉ុន្មាន ។ នេះ
គ្រាន់តែជាឧទាហរណ៍មួយ នៃប្រាក់កម្ចីរបស់ចិន ។
ចំណុចមួយទៀតគឺភាពសប្បុរសធម៌របស់ប្រទេសចិនមកលើ
កម្ពុជា ។ ជារឿយៗ យើងតែងតែឮថ្នាក់ដឹកនាំខ្មែរនិយាយអំពី
"ចក្ខុវិស័យ" (ប្រើទស្សនវិស័យត្រូវជាង) គឺការព្យាករណ៍រៀបចំ
យុទ្ធសាស្ត្រដើម្បីអភិវឌ្ឍន៍ទៅតាមទិសដៅផ្សេងៗ ។ ដើម្បីបំ
ពេញនូវចក្ខុវិស័យនិមួយៗ ឧទាហរណ៍៖ ការជួសជុលឬក៏សាង
សង់ផ្លូវថ្មីដើម្បីងាយស្រួលក្នុងការធ្វើគមនាគមន៍ ប្រទេសខ្មែរចាំ
បាច់ត្រូវតែខ្ចីប្រាក់ពីចិនយកមកបំពេញសេចក្តីត្រូវការរបស់ខ្លួន
(យើងយកតែប្រទេសចិនមកដាក់នៅទីនេះ ព្រោះចិនជាមេ
បំណុលដ៏ធំបំផុតរបស់ខ្មែរ) ។ សូមសួរថា តើប្រទេសចិនមាន
ចក្ខុវិស័យដែរទេ ក្នុងការផ្តល់ឲ្យខ្មែរនូវប្រាក់កម្ចីដ៏ច្រើនសន្ធឹក
សន្ធាប់យ៉ាងនេះ ? ប្រាកដជាមាន ! ។
វាមិនមែនជារឿងគាប់ជួននោះទេ ដែលក្រុមហ៊ុនវិនិយោគនិងធ្វើ
អាជីវកម្មនានានៅក្នុងស្រុកខ្មែរ ចាប់តាំងពីក្រុមហ៊ុនកាត់ដេរ
រហូតដល់ក្រុមហ៊ុនរុករករ៉ែ ភាគច្រើនគឺមានឬសគល់នៅឯប្រ
ទេសចិន ។ ដូច្នេះ ការផ្តល់ប្រាក់កម្ចីមកឲ្យខ្មែរ ដើម្បីកសាងហេ
ដ្ឋារចនាសម្ព័ន្ធនោះ គឺមិនខុសអ្វីទៅនឹងការរៀបចំសេវាដើម្បីចំ
ហៀវយកខ្លាញ់ពីប្រទេសខ្មែរនោះទេ ។ ប្រាក់កម្ចីសម្រាប់យក
មកសាងសង់ហេដ្ឋារចនាសម្ព័ន្ធ ដូចជា ផ្លូវគមនាគមន៍និងទំនប់
វារីអគ្គីសនី ជារបស់ចិន ក្រុមហ៊ុននិងពលករនិងសម្ភារសាងសង់
ក៏យកមកពីចិន រីឯអ្នកដែលត្រូវការប្រើប្រាស់ ទាំងផ្លូវទាំងភ្លើង
និងទទួលផលប្រយោជន៍ដ៏ច្រើនលើលុបបំផុត ក៏ជាចិន ។ ចំ
ណែកឯប្រទេសខ្មែរ និងរាស្ត្រខ្មែរ គឺបានត្រឹមតែធ្វើកូនបំណុល
និងកម្មករ (ខ្ញុំ) ចិនតែប៉ុណ្ណោះ ។
យើងឮថា ចិនមានគម្រោងនឹងបើកការដ្ឋានជីកយករ៉ែនៅខេត្ត
ព្រះវិហារ ព្រមទាំងសាងផ្លូវរទេះភ្លើងពី ព្រះវិហារ ទៅកាន់ឈូង
សមុទ្រថៃផង ។ បើតាមពត៌មាន គម្រោងវិនិយោគរុករករ៉ែដែក
នៅព្រះវិហានេះ នឹងត្រូវចំណាយថវិកាប្រមាណជា ពីរកោដ
(២ ០០០​ ០០០ ០០០ដុល្លារអាមេរិក) ។ យើងមិនដឹងថា ប្រទេស
ខ្មែរនឹងត្រូវខ្ចីប្រាក់ពីចិនប៉ុន្មានរយលានដុល្លារទៀតទេ ដើម្បី
បំពេញសេចក្តីត្រូវការ នៅក្នុងវិនិយោគនេះ ។ ប៉ុន្តែ អ្វីដែលយើង
អាចប្រមើលមើលទុកជាមុនបាននោះ គឺថា អ្នកដែលមកសាង
សង់ និងទទួលបានភោគផលដ៏ច្រើនលើសលុបនោះ គឺប្រទេស
ចិន ។ ឯមរតកដែលប្រទេសខ្មែរទទួលបាន គឺសំណល់ឧស្សាហ
កម្ម (Industrial wastes) ។ មូលហេតុដែលយើងហ៊ាននិយាយដូច្នេះ
គឺសំអាងលើហេតុផលសេដ្ឋកិច្ច ។ បន្ទាប់ពីចម្រាញ់យកធនធាន
ធម្មជាតិអស់ហើយ វាគ្មានហេតុផលអ្វីសម្រាប់ប្រទេសចិន នៅ
ត្រេងត្រាងក្នុងស្រុកខ្មែរទៀតទេ គេច្បាស់ជានឹងទៅរកសម្ភារៈ
ដែលគេត្រូវការនៅកន្លែងផ្សេង ។ ឯយើងដែលជាម្ចាស់ស្រុក
នោះ នឹងត្រូវរស់នៅជាមួយនឹងសំរាមឧស្សាហកម្ម ។
យើងមិនមែនមិនចង់ឲ្យមានការរុករកនិងទាញយកសម្បត្តិធម្មជាតិ
នៅក្នុងស្រុកខ្មែរនោះទេ ។ ប៉ុន្តែ យើងចង់ឲ្យការទាញយកភោគ
ផលធម្មជាតិទាំងនោះ មានតុល្យភាពនិងមិនបំផ្លិចបំផ្លាញជ្រុល
ពេក ។ អ្នកដែលធ្លាប់ធ្វើដំណើរឆ្លងកាត់អតីតតំបន់ឧស្សាហកម្ម
រុករករ៉ែ និងតំបន់រោងចក្រវាយនភណ្ឌ គេរមែងសង្កេតឃើញតំបន់
ទាំងនោះ ក្លាយជាតំបន់រហោស្ថាន ដោយមិនអាចកែច្នៃធ្វើអ្វីបាន
ឡើយ ព្រោះមានជាតិពុលនៅក្នុងបរិស្ថានច្រើនពេក ។ ដូច្ចេះ
យើងគប្បីគិតឲ្យបានល្អិតល្អន់ ថាតើសមិទ្ធផលដែលយើងទទួល
បាន នៅក្នុងរយៈពេលខ្លី អាចយកមកទូទាត់ ជាមួយនឹងអ្វីដែល
យើងត្រូវបាត់បង់នៅក្នុងរយៈពេលវែងបានដែរឬទែ? ហើយយើង
ក៏គួរតែគិតឲ្យរិតតែល្អិតល្អន់ដែរថា ប្រាក់ដែលចិនឲ្យយើងខ្ចី ជា
មួយនឹងក្រុមហ៊ុននិងពលករចិនដែលមកចំហៀវយកប្រាក់កម្ចី
នោះទៅវិញ តើវាជានយោបាយឈ្នះ ឈ្នះរបស់អ្នកណា? បើមេ
ដឹកនាំខ្មែរមាន "ចក្ខុវិស័យ" តែរបៀបនេះ ខ្មែរប្រាកដជាធ្វើខ្ញុំចិន
តពូជហើយ ! ៕



Friday, May 3, 2013

The Cambodian Royal Chronicle

65) King Jayajetha II

(1618--1628, Capital: Lovea Em & Oudong)
When King Sri Suryopor abdicated the throne in favor of his son, King Jayajetha II, he had also appointed his youngest son, Prince Utya, as first heir apparent (Moha Uparaja). King Jayajetha II succeeded the throne in 1618 and, after 2 years of ruling, he decided to move the Capital from Lovea Em to Oudong in 1620. In that same year, the Emperor of Vietnam had offered his beautiful daughter named Cochinsin (Lady Chov) to King Jayajetha II as concubine. King Jayajetha II agreed to accept her and make her his fifth wife.
In 1623, the Siamese waged war against the Khmers twice but were defeated both times. In that same year, the Emperor of Vietnam also sent a letter to King Jayajetha II asking him permission for the Vietnamese people to establish trading posts and settlements on the southern flank of Cambodia territory (present-day Southern Vietnam). Because of his personal connection with the Vietnamese court by marriage and possibly the threat of a double conflict with both Vietnam and Siam, King Jayajetha II agreed to the request (and the rest is history). The Vietnamese came to permanently settle in the area and that region was eventually annexed to Vietnam after World War II when the French government, which put that territory under its direct rule for almost 100 years, decided to give it to the Vietnamese majority. King Jayajetha II died in 1628 at the age of 52 years old.
For the record, King Jayajetha II was the most reviled ruler in Cambodian history rivaled, perhaps, only by Pol Pot (a.k.a. Saloth Sar), a recent ruler who turned Cambodia into a “killing field”. He (Jayajetha II) was, undoubtedly, the cause of distrust and animosity among the Khmers toward the Vietnamese, which have lingered for ages.

66) Prince Dhamaraja Samphear [a.k.a. Ponhea To]
(1629--1634, Capital: Koh Khlok)
Prince Dhamaraja Samphear was the son of King Jayajetha II. When he was still a little boy, his father had pre-arranged married him with a princess named Bophavati. But before ascending the throne and prior to his father’s death, Prince Dhamaraja Samphear entered the sangha and became a Buddhist monk. Thus, after his father’s death, the throne was left under the care of his uncle, Prince Utya, for the time being. Prince Utya not only took the throne but took princess Bophavati as his wife as well.
In 1629, Prince Dhamaraja Samphear left the sangha and return to take the reign from his uncle. After the succession, he moved the Capital to Koh Khlok in present-day Khsach Kandal district, Kandal province. One year later, he led an army to take Nokoraja province from Siam but failed to capture it. He then repatriated thousands of Khmer citizens from Siam to Cambodia.
Prince Dhamaraja Samphear was not able to let go of his childhood fiancée, Princess Bophavati. Thus, he kept corresponding with her and asked her to rendezvous with him at Koh Khlok. After Prince Utya heard of the rendezvous, he was furious and led an army to arrest Prince Dhamaraja Samphear. Fighting between the two Princes ensued and Prince Dhamaraja Samphear was defeated. He fled to Kanchor district, Kratie province, with Prince Utya in pursuit. Eventually, Prince Utya cornered him and ordered his forces to shoot him dead with an arrow.
Prince Dhamaraja Samphear died in 1634. For the record, he was very fond of literature. He wrote a number of poems. One of them entitled Chbab Preah Rajasamphear is still being read and learned in school today.

3) The Oudong Period
67) King Ang Tong I [a.k.a. Ponhea Ton]
(1634--1640, Capital: Oudong)
King Ang Tong I was also the son of King Jayajetha II. He succeeded the throne in 1634, after the death of his brother, Prince Dhamaraja Samphear.
During his reign, things were relatively calm except for a minor uprising in Rolang Traul district which was instigated by an Indian. He successfully suppressed the uprising and executed the Indian ring leader. King Ang Tong I died in June 1640 after 6 years of ruling.

68) Prince Botumaraja [a.k.a. Ang Non]
(1640--1642, Capital: Oudong)
Prince Botumaraja was the oldest son of Prince Utya. He succeeded the throne in 1640. Soon after his succession, Prince Ang Chan, another son of King Jayajetha II, was jealous and, therefore, began to instigate an uprising against Prince Botumraja. Prince Ang Chan solicited the Cham and Javanese ethnic minorities1 to help him in his revolt. Both Prince Botumaraja and his father, Prince Utya, were killed in that uprising in 1642. The other three of Prince Utya’s children escaped. One of them, Prince Ang Im, went to seek refuge with Prince Ang Chan’s mother, and the other two, princes Ponhea So and Ang Ton, went to stay with the Vietnamese widow of King Jayajetha II.
In this period, Cambodia was in complete chaos like a pariah state--most people were in distress.

69) King Botumaraja I [a.k.a. Reamia Thibadey Chan]
(1642--1658, Capital: Oudong)
King Botumaraja I was the younger brother of Prince Dhamaraja Samphear. He had Laotian mother. After successfully led the Cham and Javanese minorities’ revolt against Prince Botumaraja in 1642, he succeeded the throne, took a Javanese (Malay) wife, and converted to Muslim. Thus, King Botumaraja I was also known as Ang Chan Mohammed or Ibrahim.
During his rule, King Botumaraja I appointed a number of Cham and Javanese ethnic minorities to hold high position in his court. This action caused outrages among the Khmers. In 1658, princes Ponhea So and Ang Ton, who were staying with King Jayajetha II’s widow had asked the Vietnamese to invade Cambodia and capture King Borumaraja I to Vietnam. One year later in 1659, King Botumaraja I died at the age of 40 years old.

70) King Botumaraja II [a.k.a. Ponhea So]
(1658--1672, Capital: Oudong)
King Botumaraja II was another son of Prince Utya. After asking the Vietnamese to invade Cambodia and successfully capturing King Botumaraja I to Vietnam, he succeeded the throne in 1658. In the early part of his reign, there was a Cham/Javanese uprising in Thbong Khmom (now a district in Kompong Cham province). King Botumaraja II put down the uprising. However, most of the ringleaders along with three of King Botumaraja I’s children and about 2,200 or so supporters had escaped to seek refuge in Siam.
Cambodia had experienced tranquility for a while until 1672 when King Botumaraja II’s son-in-law, prince Jayajetha, staged a coup d’etat and killed him. However, one year later in 1673, King Botumaraja I’s Javanese widow, in turn, instigated the Chams and Javanese to murder prince Jayajetha. At this point, the Cambodian royal court became a divided house with the pro-Javanese and pro-Vietnamese royal descendants exacting revenges on each other throughout the next century.
(To be Continued)