The Curious History Of Cambodia's Beloved Kings | Asia's Monarchies | Real RoyaltyJun 01, 2021
historyin the modern era of democracy the worlds of tradition mystery and ritual command fascination and respect like never before
asian monarchs are symbols of continuity living connections to the past that are often loved and hated in equal measure royal families seem like an anachronism relics of antiquity sometimes still have a grip on their subjects an aura that cannot be replicated by mere politicians no matter how hard they try nowhere is this more true than in
cambodiawhere the majesty and splendor of the great Anchorian
kingsstill weigh heavily on modern leaders they are the symbol of the nation without a symbol it is like a human being without a heart the cult of the king has been and still is the foundation of the modern
cambodian state cambodia has been dominated by the figure of a noredom man a man whose career path reads like a work of fiction king then prince first min istro then film director king again and now king father when you are in power for a long time you become corrupt you become a dictator now corruption and human rights abuses have become so endemic in cambodia that they threaten to undermine the rebirth of a country that was once the greatest civilization in Southeast Asia the monarchy in Cambodia has lasted for over a thousand years it has survived against the greatest of odds, from foreign invasions to colonialism, raw hearts to communist revolution, the legend has it that cambodia was formed by the marriage of an indian brahmin and a cambodian princess whose father was a dragon king, the brahmin shot a magic arrow into the princess's boat which scared her so much she agreed to marry him the dragon king then drained the kingdom flooded as a wedding gift and named it campuccia the
kingsof cambodia can trace their origins to this mythical couple and the influence of india and foreigners in general in the course of Cambodian
historythe idea was established that the king was related to god and only they could decide for the good of the nation By providing security and prosperity during the great Ankorian civilization that lasted for the century IX to XV, this devotion to kings was so strong that people gave their lives to build and carve the magnificent temples that still exist today.
This paternalism continued into the 20th century. when king cyrnuk gained independence from the french and called himself the father of the nation in 1970, that eventually gave way to the barbaric khmer rouge since the 1980s politics in cambodia has been dominated by a former commander figure of the khmer rouge hun sen cambodia is now holding elections and has reverted to a constitutional monarchy under sihanuksan sihamoni but a culture of corruption has been allowed to develop especially among the military and police in recent years something prime minister hunsen has promised tackling corruption is a major problem in this country you can See every report coming out of the UN or a new investigation or international. organization dealing with corruption cambodia to be worst place in world cambodia ranked near bottom in transparency international's 2009 corruption perception index politicians hoped for a better future while living with the nightmare of the khmer rouge for us It's not exactly what we dream of when we get stranded in the refugee camp on the Thai border and the Cambodian checkerboard we think we could with a fresh start have a democracy at least people will be free to speak I know maybe peace and Stability comes at a price but at least they should strike a balance 2004 was a turning point in Cambodian history after 60 years the overwhelming presence of sihanouk suddenly disappeared and prime minister hunsen moved quickly to fill the void the sun ceremony continues as a living connection to the god-kings of angkor wat and the hundreds of temples that still exist today. n day angkor wat even adorns the country's flag the entire identity of cambodia revolves around and the worship of the king derived from that ancient and glorious civilization for the last thousand years cambodians have worshiped their kings as representatives of god but this controversy As to whether or not kings were seen as direct descendants of heaven, I think most scholars these days would accept the argument that it was not that the king himself was a deity, but that the king represented part of the spiritual potency of a particular deity, that the king was sacred in a certain way, and that, in particular, dead rulers and dead royal family members could be represented as deities in in cambodia concept temples the king represents the god we call the right that brahminism has touches and we carry out is called developer the developer can transform the king to be like god brahminism was the concept of d king worship imported from india deva raja was a ceremony of worship to god that only the king could perform in the year 802 this fusion of cultures gave birth to the first king of cambodia jayavarman ii who laid the foundations of a prosperous civilization which would last 700 years ii his subjects built their first city in the kulin mountains 45 kilometers from angkor wat the fact that it is one of the highest points in the country is no coincidence the mountain is important for other people to have a brahmanism because we need have the temple represent the mountain so we built the temple like a mountain and look at the god on top of the mountain every king that followed jeff armand ii wanted to build on his success in building bigger and grander temples to honor jayavarman as the founder of the kingdom, each king would demonstrate his divinity by controlling nature as the gods did by digging reservoirs and irrigation canals for this, the king expected There was a complete submission of their subjects and a pattern of authoritarianism was established in the country that continues to this day the people worked tirelessly in the name of the king and god these were vast enterprises similar in scale to those of ancient egypt and ancient civilizations mayan and aztec from central america people have to use their own labor to work for the nation not only for the god but for their own obligation so people pay the tax but not
really the money maybe we used to say in our days but we use our labor to work for the people to work for the nation and to work for the king finally wait for the god this grandiose temple building culminated in the magnificent angkor wat a 12th century temple dedicated to the hindu god vishnu and built under the reign of king suryavarman ii it is estimated that more than 300 000 people worked on the temple which took more than 40 years to complete each temple built was a catalog Nowhere is this more evident than at Angkor, where the reliefs at the base of the temple are lined with depictions of battles and the celestial female apsaras who danced for the pleasure of the gods and kings. king. and their courtiers, this tradition has been kept alive in modern Cambodia, although now the dance absurdities for tourists and kings, as Buddhism took hold in the country since the 13th century, Cambodian kings began to be seen as representatives of Buddha and not Shiva Vishnu or Brahma of Hindu beliefs Suryavarman II's first cousin Jayavarman VII has come to be known as the greatest of all uncle kings and was thought to be the first Buddhist king the construction of his temple had a incredibly grandiose in scale and can be seen as a direct response to the invasion of the champa empire from present-day vietnam in 1177 jayavarman vii mobilized his subjects to defeat the champers and embarked on the largest public works program cambodia has ever known king was at his height civilization was at its most majestic and extraordinary number of temples and roads, bridges and schools were testament own state temple was the incredible payon a multi-faced building of rising p each of the peaks has a face on all four sides, some believe these are representations of gervard himself, the greatness of the angkorian civilization and the reverence of their kings began to decline afterwards that geovarman vii, the war between its neighbors in present-day thailand and vietnam would come to dominate cambodia until the arrival of the french in the late 19th century at angkor the irrigation system broke down and the capital was moved to phnom penh the people the thailand and vietnam's dominance of cambodia meant cambodian kings often lived in exile or confined to the royal palace foreign invaders dominated the royal family and often appointed themselves king cambodia was in danger of losing its kings and all their territory it was only the power of france that saved them for over 200 years the cambodian crown bounces back and forth between a pro-vietn faction mita and a protofaction so almost every ruler in the 17th and 18th century and
really during the 19th century was more tied to one side than the other so as soon as you have a ruler who has been put on the throne with the support of one side, you have another faction that is preparing to overthrow them in 1857 the french arrived in cambodia and it was their intervention that finally put an end to the rivalry between thailand and vietnam over cambodian territory we called a friend to rescue us Because, as you know, from the end of the 16th century, it was a design error and then the beginning of the 17th century, it was the Vietnamese, so in the end, when the French came, Cambodia was reduced to a small territory.
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Protection from friends can be both good and bad. If there are no friends, can I believe that we don't have Cambodia today in 1863? At first this was a bilateral relationship The following year the Cambodian throne was awarded to King Noradon and the French allowed him to reign realizing they could use him to help control the French population He slowly reduced his powers with the help of opium addiction de Nouridham, couldn't stop their colonial caretakers when France became a republic in 1886 I think, and then they forced the king to sign a treaty they bring and call kanoneer in front of those present in the royal palace at night they invade the palace and force the king to sign an agreement to let the French rule the friends of the country come to protect us they protect our land but inside our land you asked me to say that they also come to each of the brothers King Norodom died in 1904 embittered because, although the French were helping Cambodia to modernize and develop, they were also bleeding the country dry.
The French idealized Cambodia above all their other colonies in Indochina. To them, it was a special place that gave them little to no trouble. Noredom had complied with the French simply to ensure his own survival and that of his dynasty Noridam Sisowov's half-brother had been taken over by someone far more sympathetic and fawning over the French. Cambodia had become a full-fledged colony in the days of a protectorate had ended and authoritarianism once again became the system by which Cambodians were ruled sicily died in 1927 by which time the french were in firm control while neighboring vietnam pushed for independence the french saw the cambodians as docile and easygoing people that handling kings was the least of their worries in 1941 the french decided to unite the noradam and sisawat branches of the royal family by naming an unknown 19 year old who was related to both lines noradom cernook they believed that as he is young it is easy to control him but they made a mistake because it was a big problem i think e had the wrong perception he said oh his prince is very young his personality is more attractive because of women and music and you know growing strength he already has some ideas on how to lead cambodia to a rich french martial independence i said prince janook is crazy but he Like a mad genius, this young prince has a vision of his kingdom.
The French appointed someone who would become a nationalist hero and dominate the country's political life for the next 50 years after World War II. The French returned to Cambodia afterwards. the defeat of the Japanese occupation forces elections were held for the first time and the democratic party drafted a new constitution which removed king sehanouk from the political process this angered the young king he began a long process to win the support of the people and oppose french rule The French granted the country a new constitution in which the constitutional monarchy was adopted and implemented, but still, given the personality of the random syanuk, he dominated the political scene. cyanuk refused to accept the limitations of a constitutional monarchy with french support, dissolved the national assembly and then in 1955 with the french concerned about events across the border in vietnam finally g raged cambodia its independence went to the countryside worked for the people wanted to take action to follow the king since encore time work with the people to gain more power from the people like jayavarapan 7. in 1955 in just one year cyanuk persuaded the french to abandon proclaimed independence abdicated formed his own party politician and won the post of prime minister notedhis monopolization of power the cult of personality first started by uncle kings came back in vogue cyanuc of course has always felt that he knew best for cambodia and therefore when he had elections, when he had a process politically it was always assumed that if it didn't produce the results that he thought were the best then he would try to overturn it i mean that was fundamentally his opinion people consider us kingston as the father of independence you know i think he has helped in this part of history, you know, even without bloodshed between French and Cambodia. during the 1955 elections ballot boxes were reported missing opposition leaders allegedly harassed critical newspapers closed down was a pattern of authoritarian politics that continues in cambodia today however cyanuc was genuinely popular and cambodia became relatively affluent 1964 1964 -65 at that time we are richer than Singapore that's why it became very popular among people in the 1960s events that took place in neighboring countries threatened the stability of cambodia cyanuk boldly declared cambodia neutral in the cold war but faltered at brink of communism as the influence of china and north vietnam grew i think the us accused him of being the red prince but he has to work for the interests of cambodia not the interests of canada the communists or the or the united states the faith in our homeland they don't care they are more patriots for dollars than for cambodia in 1963 sihanouk took the bold step of cort ar of American economic assistance, thus siding in their minds with the communist side whenever he sees a discussion of sienna q always sees the correct word mercurial I mean it is always used to refer to and he was everyone, even the most observant understanding of the time and power of cyanuk i have to admit this very very strong personalization of any perceived insults any perceived slights that this really um this this did a lot of his politics is very problematic cyanuk managed to maintain good relations with the former occupiers of Cambodia and in 1966 French President Charles de Gaulle honored Cyanuk with a state visit to Cambodia.
He wanted to see himself as a statesman as someone who was going to be respected and capable of kind of playing with the greats but he had no the temperament for it, I didn't have the kind of self-control for it and that meant that after a certain point, I think fewer and fewer people really and they took it seriously. vain and bored with politics and a strange career change for a former king and current prime minister he decided to put all his energy into directing and starring in his own feature films. He used to read the international press.
Sometimes they call him playboy. He wasn't sure what the playboys were about. I was confused that the playboy was maybe a kid who liked to play with a lot of things and while cyrnic was playing movie star in the late 1960s the vietnam war was threatening to spill over into cambodia the americans had problems in vietnam and cambodia supported the north vietnamese and vietcong so the americans had to do something to make sure cambodia stopped supporting the north vietnamese and vietcong so they had to overthrow the damsel in march 1970 while cyanuk was traveling abroad military commander lon norm staged a coup against the government many including cyanuk himself believed the coup was sponsored by the cia the london audience were very ambitiously on their own they wanted to replace me as head of state and the audience of london as they were very corrupt they wanted to be more corrupt without being bothered by the faults of siharoo etc etc so they decided together I don't think General Longnell would do anything without US backing.
I know some US diplomats told me they were nothing. Can I believe them because there are so many centers of power in the US? I mean the state department may not know what the CIA or FBI was doing while Syranuk and his father, the nominal king, took refuge in China. American fighter jets dropped a hundred. thousands of tons of bombs on cambodia in the hope of ending vietcong activities in the country was a brutal illegal campaign sanctioned by secretary of state henry kissinger cyanuk was desperate to return to power and allied himself with a growing group of communists who they were taking over the cambodian countryside by the khmer rouge in 1973 he even wore his signature scarf on a secret visit to their training camps to gain support the people supported the marrows thanks to him it was a common fight he didn't call it khmer rouge to join He called on all Cambodians to join his fight against what they call at the time the US imperialists accused the former king as part of the reason the Khmer Rouge came to power in the first place seeing no support for this death camp it would never happen siena believed that if the khmer rouge were able to seize power he would be reinstated as king this turned out to be unfounded on april 17 In 1975 the Khmer Rouge invaded Phnom Penh.
He was playing saga with other children and there were a lot of people running into the street and saying that the Khmer Rouge came in. The community entered. I saw the first time the tank entered the circle and a lot. of people i saw some kids in the tank wearing black clothes and they were frowning but they had guns on the 17th day of april 1975 i was in phnom penh i have seen a lot of my interpretable youtube they told my family my last speaker could please , go to the field only three days and you can come after three days.
You cannot stay in Phnom Penh because immediately there will be American planes coming to the bomb. Not three days more than three years. Almost four years. He declared that Cambodia had entered Year Zero and that two thousand years of history were over, as were money markets, education, religion, books, and property. It was arguably the most radical and ill-conceived communist revolution in human history. he was arrested at the royal palace in phnom penh at that time there were no crowded people so you can't see anything about the people in the camp it can't be you at all for many cambodians the suffering and horror of the camps I work in the fields.
They live today. I miss my childhood, you know, I grew up during the war. I was never a child. I never had a toy to play with. I never had a real family. your new growth the growing new society people have their family so it's annoying i was very close to having a very bad dream a few times and i don't know what to do with it i woke up in the middle of my dream and i choked i literally drowned i choked twice in my life and came very close to choking to death i accused my sister of eating food stolen from her own husband's dead body to prove she did it if they took her to the hospital and performed the operation they cut open her stomach and died the Khmer Rouge is believed to have killed almost 2 million people twenty percent of the Cambodian population it was a large scale genocide same thing the movie landmark document history good movie kill feel true ok this is a born victim die here los teeth with him here oh maybe he called the girl the young man this very sad bad man my father my uncle died my sister from starvation the food i have this outfit both day the people of cambodia my family lia is an angry bird you can't forget it in 1979 the khmer rouge sent cyanuk to beijing as their ambassador the vietnamese invaded cambodia to drive out the khmer rouge who fled to the camp cyanuk was to stay in china for the next 12 years hoping his people embraced him as their leader again most Cambodians welcomed the Vietnamese forces with open arms as a relief from the horrors of a genocidal regime millions of people returned from refugee camps around the world At the Thai border they awaited a new beginning, but what they found was a country on its knees.
The Khmer Rouge had devastated the rural economy. The rice harvest failed and the people and the army were left to starve. Exiles in China. Cyanuk refused to negotiate with the Vietnamese invaders. previously considered allies, he has this very clear feeling that the Vietnamese betrayed the Cambodians by invading and doing all these things, however justified the invasion was, and I think he had a feeling that the old kind of camaraderie that he had enjoyed enjoyed vietnamese leaders in the early 70s who had left, the vietnamese installed a young former khmer rouge commander as p minister hunsen has remained in power to this day the vietnamese finally left cambodia in 1989 cyanuk returned to his country in 1991 after years of devastation and war was seen as the only way to unify the country the monarchy was a bridge to a history that had been lost for more than two decades after a period of reconciliation managed by cyanuk and united nations elections were called in 1993. it was a turning point in 1993 xianu could have been president of cam buoy and would have had a lot of power but he made a mistake for personal reasons family reasons he lost his chance to make a real comeback on the political scene he considered running for office under his own fansipec royalist party in the end he let his son prince ranaret take over was to stand, it was going to be the beginning of the end of long dominance of Cambodian political life after the very clear unifying role it played, I think he legitimately expected that he would probably at least dominate the political scene, I think he may have underestimated a dime, For some reason, he expected that Fonsenberg, who was led by one of his sons at the time, would give him a power or support him after the election to make him the leader of the country, but it was a struggle between him and his son, many wanted cyanuk to run for president but his own son blocked the move, he is so unique with such a charismatic character he would have done great things for the country he would not allow. the country went by the train as it has the 1993 elections were deemed free and fair and it was decided that cambodia would have not one but two prime ministers hunsen and prince ranami and that the country would revert to a constitutional monarchy under the unification influence of noradam seahawk the decision made at that time to return the monarchy to cambodia will be the best option for the country cambodia is a very fragile nation when we have a monarchy that is not strong in the institution in this country makes people feel a little better because we are on the right path and we are not going to kill each other.
However, the Frog Prince Red and Hunsen proved to be awkward bedfellows. Their own armies engaged in open conflict to compound this. The Khmer Rouge. they were still active laying hundreds of thousands of mines in the countryside cambodia was once again in crisis throughout the 1990s the influence of the king waned while the power of prime minister hunsen grew he was unhappy for so many years you will see that from 93 onwards they will hear from time to time sometimes he publishes a statement critical of the government and always compares the regime or government with the past until once our principal can find a way to shut him up.
I won't describe what the main just said but he did a good Job Hunsen followed a governance model that started with the Ankorian kings and was further developed by Syrinok i I won't stop Also if ASEAN continues to interfere in international internal affairs coordination tions are held but voters are supposedly forced to vote for hunsen's people's party opponents are said to have been undermined and tortured cambodia finally found peace under a monarchy again but its peace comes at a price history will say that when it fails you have freedom of expression when your opponent will scare you cannot live in society you have to review in the forest and organize a fight against you then you only have a party system without freedom or expression so what you call that kind of system i agree to have some restrictions on freedom in exchange for a strong monarchy that defends national interests, but if the monarchy is symbolic ca totally powerless something used to support a dictatorship so this is a huge disappointment as onsen consolidated its power in 2004 sia nook shocked everyone by suddenly abdicating in ceremony in favor of her second son someone untainted by politics corrupt country he was a Prague based ballet dancer and was somewhat surprised to receive the call to the throne, it seemed an instinctive move from someone who had previously only thought about his own control of power, but now he was thinking about the future of his country when he defended that he had thought so roughly that it is the best solution because after him he would not know what would happen, so he has to ensure for this peace and stability a kind of smooth transition from him, I mean it is difficult to happen because it is still for the people the god king 2004 marked a turning point in the history of cambodia the beginning of a future without sihanouk however the past habi treat the present like a bad dream the country desperately needs a lockdown it has suffered greatlyparticularly under the brutal khmer rouge and the scars still fester with the surviving leaders in 2009 of the hated khmer rouge stood trial ending the worst chapter in cambodia's long history a foundation for cambodia to build on to move forward and decide its own the future is a trial and the final judgment of the crime committed in general by the Khmer Rouge and, from there, Cambodians will have to decide what to do with this.
Maybe they want to have a truth commission. You may want to have this report. They want to have Buddhists. event to cremate all the bones maybe they want to have a big parade maybe they want to have a recognition in each provincial town with the plaque say how many people have died cambodia is finally coming to terms with its history from the greatness of anko to the syrnok maneuvers there has been a innate feeling of greatness among the khmer people based on the majesty of their kings the cambodian people have passed through many generations you talk about communists you talk about monarchists you talk about republic we have been in all the people so happy enough to experience all this what they What worries is that they only want peace the horrors of the past, lack of good governance and corruption have left Cambodia disastrously poor at the beginning of the 21st century but it is a nation that has risen again with pride, grace and humor united under the figure of its
belovedforeign king the monarchy in cambodia has survived the most tumultuous period in its history and has helped do to guide the country to peace and for most Cambodians it is this piece that matters most
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