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History Revisited

with 10 comments

Extreme nationalism in question: challenges and consequences

 

 

Khmer had been great for many centuries starting from even before the first century of the Christian era.  It was the time when the Tai people – the now Vietnamese (mixed mostly with the Cham and the Khmer indigenous people) and the now Thai people(s) (mixed mostly with the Mon and the Khmer indigenous people) – were still tribes under Chinese rule.  Since first century A.D, Kambuja state – the Funan – had trading activities with different countries from South Asia (such as India and China) and South-east Asian.  When Kambuja state was greatly glorious and developed as an empire – powerful beyond its borders occupying vast areas beyond Sukhothai, Ayuthya, the current Bangkok and the former provinces in the north-east Thailand, the kingdom started to construct many temples dedicated to deities in Brahmanism and later Mahayana Buddhism – since the late sixth century. The kingdom’s great master-piece temple constructions have started since from the reigns of the Khmer kings as Jayavarman II, Yaśovaraman I, Rājendravarman, Sūryavarman I , Sūryavarman II and Jayavarman VII, as all Thai people and international scholars and tourists can see in their eyes those temples in the present Cambodia and many other temples it lost to the now Thailand – formerly called the Siam – in which the Khmer temples stand such as Phimai temples with similar design to Angkor; and Khnom Roung temple on the top of mountain similar Bakeng temple in Boriram province.

 

Although the Khmer Empire collapsed due to relentless invasions, persecutions and hungry thirsts for occupations which resulted in burnings and destructions of the Angkor in the first half on the 15th century, and subsequent burnings and destructions of Longvek camps, which was the last strong hold of the Khmer kings and generals to retain the country in the first half of 16th century, the Thai and the other foreign invaders were still in pursuits to conquer the Khmer Kingdom. And when the land of Cambodia was ruled by members of Khmer royal families often in conflict for absolute control in their own rights, the country had become so weak that enabled lingering ambitions of the Thai to occupy the Kambuja succeeded.  Just from when it succeed and overruled the Khmer kingdom for about 100 years, the Thai have endlessly and shamelessly claimed in front of the international court in 1962 for the Preah Vihea Temple to be their own property without looking at themselves and see who and where were they when the Khmer kings and people started to build those temples. 

 

Losing the court case in 1962 indeed has not brought to an end of the Thai thirst for more territory and temples from Cambodia; they have composed text-books to teach their children that they are superior people to the neighboring countries – particularly the Laotians and the Khmers. A Thai-American professor at University of Illinois once (2006) told me in Siem Reap that a group of Thai ‘scholars’, a few of his old friends are on the team, went to the US on research mission supported by Thai Royal foundation to write a textbook claiming that Apsara dance (known as the Khmer Holy Dance) has originated in Siam soil – not a copy from Cambodia.  He said that they are ‘crazy’ persons.  He told me further that he asked them to be fair and to remember that about more than 40 per cent of Thai language has been from Khmer language.

 

When I spent a week to conduct my field-work research on the role of the Thai sangha in society and politics in comparison to that of the Khmer monks in the same arena, I interviewed some 30 Thai students (on July 26, 2005) in our group discussions and conversations at Mahasarakham University about how do they think about the Preah Vihea temple, they immediately answered us that “the Preah Vihea temple (in their words as ‘khao prajvihan’) is Thai property, and their government’s officials who signed the decisions made by the international court in Holland in 1962 were blind officials; they did not really read the decision papers; they are blind; they ate Thai rice and spent salary of Thai people, but they were partially treasons.”  In addition, they said that it is not only the ‘khao prajvihan’, which is the Thai property, but also Angkor Wat and Ankor Thom (the Bayaon Temple) that were constructed by their ancestors.  This view could be the results of their ‘confused’ extreme nationalistic education at schools regardless that at homes.  Khmer-Thai people living in the north-eastern provinces in the present Thailand might have share similar history and ancestors with the Khmer, but this does not that it is the same true as all Thais living in Thailand.

     

As another practical instance, all tourists can see the display of a huge portrait ‘milk churning of apsara’ extracted from the master piece of an inscribed artifact on the wall of Angkor to display in centre of the Thai new airport Sovanabhumi – does this represent the Khmer property or the property of Thailand?  And why it is so silent from the Cambodian side – the owner – on this regard?

 

After the 2003 incidents of burning down the Thai embassy, a committee was set up with bilateral agreement to help reduce tensions and solve any conflicts resulting from any possible confusion and extreme nationalistic activism, but up to now how far this committee has worked has not been known. And a question to be asked is that ‘should Cambodia let those school text-books in Thai education go on without check from the Cambodian side?’ Any possible and acceptable solution, however, has to be satisfied from both sides – not a kind of both territorial and economic triumphal of the Thai on the Khmer like this day.  For any successful purpose, however, intellectual quality must be in need and in real use.     

    

 Of course, the success in proposing the Preah Vihea temple to be accepted and listed by the UNESCO as the world property on 07 July 2008 seems to be great for many Khmer people, but indeed it is not a real surprise to be satisfied on what has already been legally decided and guaranteed to be Cambodian property by the International Court.  In fact, history never disappears itself; it remains there as a recalling voice to be listened and heard so as to be remembered, and as a lesson to be learnt.  Yet, whether it is learnt or not, it determines one’s destiny.

 

 

Heng Sreang

 

Philosophy lecturer and researcher

Royal university of Phnom Penh

Tel: 011 685 524

Written by Kolbot Khmer

July 20, 2008 at 4:20 pm

10 Responses

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  1. Heng Sreang, Heng Samrin, Pol pot aka Saloth Sar,Ta Mok, Hun Sen are not from Sanskrit.More Chinese and local influence.After the sacking of Angkor in 1431 not many Cambodians carry or are given Sanskrit names.

    In Hinduism and Buddhism, the naming of a child is one of the most auspicious occasion of one’s life and must be presided and chosen by a Brahmin priest.This still goes on in all Hindu or Buddhist societies.

    The Elites in Thailand and Burma still follow this ritual.

    The churning of the ocean, for the exilir of life, though engraved on the Angkor Walls in the 11th century,can be found in many temples and cave paintings all over North India.They come from the Vedas and Mahabaratha- the Hindu Holy Books.

    You can google them.

    They were written by sages, thousands of years before the Khmers( south east asian inhabitants) even wore clothes.

    In Sanskrit.( translation in english is available)

    The Apsaras and all court clothings, dances and weaponry too came from the Persian/North Indian kingdoms of old.Their Kingdom was Kemboja near Mount Meru, known as the abodes of the Gods.

    Hence it was no coincidence that the Angkor Wat was designed to replicate the homes of the Gods in Mount. Meru.The Lotus flower being the symbol of the temple structures.

    Angkor was built by Persian/Indian Kings who settled down there.They were an advanced Civilisation, from Persia, called the Aryans.As I had mentioned in other forums before, the King, generals, architects and priest were foreign.The workers and soldiers were natives.

    It was the same in Java when they built the Borobudor.Later, the sons of high ranking Court officials were sent to Nalanda University, in Bihar, to study Vedic Knowledge.

    True, the Thais or Siamese then, copied every cultural aspect of life from the civilisation they destroyed.

    Please google the Kemboj Society or Vedic Culture and Aryan immigration to south east asia.The temples of Bagan ,Burma were built about 2 hundred years before the Angkor Era.There were more than 20,000 then.After the Mongol invasion this was reduced to about 2,000.And most in good conditons, better kept than the Angkor, though not so grand.

    I would appreciate a reponse, from you.

    Thanks!

    History Buff

    March 7, 2010 at 6:33 am

  2. The relation of Khmer and Indian is acceptable, but the Persian is not known. It seems that you confuses the Aryan and the Persian. It seems to me that PERSIAN is ARYAN from your perspective. But if you refer to Aryan it consist of many ethnical diferences Nordic, Alpine, and Miditeranean. So stop confusing others with your bias knowledge.

    To make you clear:

    1. Kamboja were located in north west of India in central asia. Geographically, not located in Iran, but terminologically can be Iranian.

    2. The Indian Valley Civilization was far civilized than that of the Persian or even Aryan, so there is no reason that Persian/Iranian could influence India at that time.

    3. Some say that Kambuja is derived from Kambojas (Iranian), but it must be confused since Kambuja originated from the leanage of ruling family in Cambodia originated its legendary patriarch figure called Svayambhuva Kambu. According to Casey, “Kambuja” is etymologically deived from Kambu+ja, where ja in Sanskrit is said to mean “son or descendant”. Hence, Kambujas means “descendants of Kambu”. Where Kamboj in the muslim world means referring to people with a great Panjap.

    You Say: “Heng Sreang, Heng Samrin, Pol pot aka Saloth Sar,Ta Mok, Hun Sen are not from Sanskrit.More Chinese and local influence.After the sacking of Angkor in 1431 not many Cambodians carry or are given Sanskrit names.

    In Hinduism and Buddhism, the naming of a child is one of the most auspicious occasion of one’s life and must be presided and chosen by a Brahmin priest.This still goes on in all Hindu or Buddhist societies.” I SAY: During that time Cambodia adopted Hinduism and but changed during the reign of our great King Jayavarman VII which turned to Buddhism and then the Hinduism influence anyway was reduced. And the Buddhist Khmer are free to choose their names and the ritual is not valued as before unlike during the Hinduism period.

    YOU SAY: “Angkor was built by Persian/Indian Kings who settled down there.They were an advanced Civilisation, from Persia, called the Aryans.As I had mentioned in other forums before, the King, generals, architects and priest were foreign.The workers and soldiers were natives.” I SAY: There is no Indian King or Persian King(Persian king is completely groundless) that time but the KHMER KINGS. If so why dont you go around and tell the Thai that their today King is Indian King and tell Sihanouk that he is an Indian King. And why there is no Angkor Wat or something similar to Angkor Wat in Iran coz Persian geographically centered in Iran? And it is really baseless to say that the King, architect, priests are foreigners ,since all records say that no foreigners but prisoners of wars were workers along with the empire’s subjects. However, I might agree with you to say that our kings has the genetic mixture.

    It is the German who invented the automobile in the first place, but it the Japan that make the best car in the world, and it is the Scottish that invented telephone and yet it is the Finnish that make the best telephone ever. Similarly, it is the Indian that first built temples for the Gods’ dedication and culturally influence is we Khmer that built the biggest temples on earth and more advanced, and more beautiful.

    sokheounpang

    March 7, 2010 at 10:45 am

  3. Actually, I was hoping for Heng Sreang’s response. Not from an uneducated brown skinned native with a inferiority complex.

    Keep up with your uncouth responses and your village proverbs.

    No wonder so few people log in here.

    History Buff

    March 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm

  4. Good job Sokheounpang. History Buff get pist because you nail him on the head.

    referee

    August 1, 2010 at 10:54 am

  5. Heng Sreang, you descibe it right on the money.The Thief king try teach the thais the wrong history.

    referee

    August 1, 2010 at 11:02 am

  6. I know that Heng Sreang has been on leave for his further study somewhere in Europe. He may be busy with his new research and study. I hope he would respond us some day from his research and findings.

    What I can say is that Thais try to confuse the world about what us what. Thanks!

    Phan Hean

    September 16, 2010 at 1:37 am

  7. Excuse me sir!
    I am Thai and I do respect the properties of Khmer.

    For the churning milk ocean. It come from the story of Vishnu God’s 10 reincarnations. I knew that it came from India because it’s Hindu!

    The art which was used in the statue at Suvarnabhumi Airport is totally Thai. You can see the diffrence by comparing whith your own Angkor portrait…

    It’s totally different!!!

    You cannot claim Hindu properties as your own!
    I’m just master degree physics student but I know what’s the difference between Khmer and Thai?

    Why you phillosopher don’t mention?
    I can tell you about the advantages of Thai people that make we were strong enough to against European emperialism.
    1. Thai can adapt themselves with any situation. Because of living with stronger races, This ability stay with every Thai through out our blood. We can overcome any problems such as WWII, Communism etc
    (although some resolves cause bad effects TT)

    2. Thai can turn other races into us. This reason make Mon, Khmer, Malay, and other native peoples change to Thai from time to time. Now, we can turn chinese refugee into completely Thai by adaping a little bit chinese culture to our culture. Because of the soft personalities of Thai people, it’s easy to change others to us. If you’ve study psychology, you will know why other races pround to become us.

    Under the smiling of Thai who are polite, neat and weak…You won’t know what Thai think!

    Niki

    December 9, 2010 at 8:37 pm

  8. Why Khmer don’t learn from history.? We have been at the top of the peak and down under the earth. We should have enough lesson and experience. However, with current development and intrusion from Vietnam and Thailand, Cambodia or the Khmer may disappear from the world map, or stay under the earth like earthworm.

    Vuthy

    January 4, 2011 at 12:14 pm

  9. Hun Sen is a terrible traitor. Because of him that is why Heng Sreang and his family are living peacefully until now. Without this traitor, Heng Sreang and all Khmer in Cambodia would die off from this world.
    Fuck a stupid traitor.

    Sithan

    March 1, 2011 at 2:45 am

  10. That is right, Hun Sen is a big traitor. he pulled Heng Sreang out from the killing field, the place that Heng Sreang love a lot. Crazy traitor Hun Sen.

    lolo

    March 1, 2011 at 2:52 am


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