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A Khmer Was Once the Premier of Thailand: The Traitorous Ahaiwongse family

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Khmerization digged up an interesting historical piece on Khuang Aphaiwong (ควง อภัยวงศ์), the former three-time Khmer premier of Thailand. Though he wasn’t really someone we should be proud of, this article is still worth reading. Enjoy!

The Aphaiwong family has ruled Battambang province for over one hundred years from 1795-1907. The first member of the Aphaiwongs to rule Battambang was Chaufa Ben, a native of Takeo province, who was a powerful military commander under the reign of King Ang Eng. In 1795, with the aid of the Thai army with Chau Ponhea Bodin as a commander, Chaufa Ben declared himself the Lord Governor of Battambang and swore allegiance to the Thai kings. He pays homage to the Thai kings and since then Battambang was put under the suzerainty of Siam. As a reward, he was accorded the title of “Chau Ponhea Apheithipess” which in Thai it is called “Chao Phraya Aphaithebet” or “Aphai”. This title was later adopted as a family name of Ben’s descendants of Aphaiwong, when his descendants moved to live in Thailand, after Battambang was returned to Cambodia in 1907.

When Chau Ponhea Apheitipess Ben died in 1809, his son, Pen, ascended the Lordship of Battambang with the same title of Chau Ponhea Apheitipess. Chau Ponhea Pen ruled Battambang for only seven years and died at a young age and was then succeeded in 1816 by his son, Ros, who ruled Battambang for twenty years. When he died in 1835, Chau Ponhea Ros was succeeded by his son, Nong. There was no record of how long Chau Ponhea Nong ruled Battambang, but there was a record which shows that in 1856 he had ordered his official to buy a Tripitaka scripture from Siam to give to Wat Po Veal temple. When Apheitipess Nong died he was succeeded by his son, Year called Nhonh.

Lord Chhum, The Last Lord Governor of Battambang

Chau Ponhea Nhonh was very close with Chau Ponhea Bodin, the Thai military commander for Battambang. As such, he married his eldest daughter, Neak Mchas Klip, to Bodin’s son named Em Singhaseni. When Ponhea Nhon became old, Mrs. Klip took charge of the provincial affairs. The Thai king was so impressed of her managerial skills and so was preparing to appoint her husband, Em Singhaseni, to succeed Ponhea Nhonh. Chhum, the only son of Ponhea Nhonh, knew of the plan and became jealous and had Em Singhaseni assassinated. And when Ponhea Nhonh died in 1895, Chhum succeeded Ponhea Nhonh as the Lord Governor of Battambang. Chhum ruled Battambang for only 12 years when it was returned back to the control of Cambodia. He and most of his relatives, numbers in the thousands, moved to live in Prachinburi province in Thailand. He was, effectively, the last governor of Battambang.

According to eyewitnesses, when Lord Chhum moved to live in Thailand, he brought with him about 100 cartloads of gold and assets, taxed from Khmer farmers in Battambang.

Khuang Aphaiwong, a Khmer Becoming the Prime Minister of Thailand

Lord Chhum, the last governor of Battambang, had more than 40 wives. Among the 40 wives, he had one Thai wife named Rord who bore him a son named Khuang who took the surname of Aphaiwong when his family moved to live in Thailand after Battambang was returned to Cambodia in 1907.

Khuang Aphaiwong was born in Battambang on May 17, 1902 and died on March 15, 1968 in Bangkok, Thailand. He served three times as the prime minister of Thailand.

He attended the Debsirin school and the Assumption College in Bangkok, and studied engineering at the Ecole Centrale de Lyon in France. After his return to Thailand he worked in the telegraph department, finally becoming the director of the department.

Khuang was one of the most important leaders of the 1932 coup that reformed the Thai monarchy from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy.

Khuang received the title as a major, when he joined the guard of King Rama VII, King Prajadipok, in World War II. The Thai king also bestowed upon him the title of Luang Kovit Aphaiwong. He had served as a minister of subsequent Thai governments before elected as prime minister on August 1, 1944. On August 17, 1945, after public pressures, he resigned to make way for a new administration.

In 1946 he was one of the founders of the Democrat Party, and became its first leader. His Democrat Party won the fourth national elections on January 6, 1946, which gained him a second term as prime minister starting on January 31. Only 45 days later, on March 24, his government was censured by a motion in the parliament and he resigned.

On November 10, 1947, he became prime minister a third time following a coup d’état led by Phin Chunhawan. However, the coup leaders were not pleased with the performance of Khuang’s government and forced him to resign on April 8, 1948.

The Aphaiwong Legacy

The Aphaiwongs had ruled well and, at times, misruled Battambang, depending on who you talked to. The Aphaiwong family was both loved and hated by many Battambang natives due to their feudal and oppressive rules. Many people who benefited from their rules loved them and cried when the family moved to Thailand, after Battambang was returned to Cambodian control. Many of these people followed the Aphaiwongs to Thailand but were abandoned by them. Most became destitute and decided to moved back to Battambang. Others, those who were oppressed by their oppressive rules, were overjoyed of their departures.//
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References:
1. Tauch Chhuong, Battambang During The Time Of The Lord Governor
2. Wikipedia, Khuang Aphaiwong.
3. Brittanica, Khuang Aphaiwong.

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12 Responses

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  1. […] Post in here ចំណាត់ក្រុម ៖Uncategorized ប្លាក៖A Khmer Was Once the […]

  2. may i ask. i know this is silly. since the 1800s, how many times has/had cambodia been invadesd by outsiders. until now cambodian does not know how to herself. please don’t tell me that hun sen is cambodian. sorry. i hope i am not offending you. and by the way most of the bad things that were written about the aphaiwongs family, was written by the lower part of cambodian. se ya

    pano

    August 18, 2010 at 6:01 am

  3. oh by the way. what happen to kampuchea krowm/kosungseen. who lost that to the v/c. there are many more things that does not seem right about the cambodian rulling class.

    pano

    August 18, 2010 at 6:06 am

  4. Pano,

    It is the spiral of the history. It’s like Greek which was once one of the greatest land on earth and now it’s stand behind many new nations. Cambodia was once the greatest country in seatheast asia, and reached her zenith in from 9 to 13th century. And now it’s again start to rise, we hope.

    Aphaiwong is a traitor for Khmer people and if you are siam you should be proud of him that he serve siam well.

    You are right that aphaiwong story written by a lower part of Cambodia, but not Khmer Krom, it=s khmer middle (Cambodia). It is common for us to call Khmer people who live in thailand now as Khmer Lue since in history the upperpart of Cambodia was Thailand today and the middle part is Cambodia today and the lower part is (Kampuchea Krom (southern vietnam.

    Hun sen is a real Khmer, but he just doesn=t have a srong and positive leadership and that’s the problem we have him today.

  5. I cannot believe this. you are all-ready acused a fellow Cambodian a Siam. Is this how you get other readers blood pumping. Is this how you talk to other Cambodians. You know my friends. I lived through the Khmerough regime. What you’ve just said would have gotten me killed. All I did was giving you an honest opinion. And asked some simple questions. That’s all. Do you know that the Aphaiwongs family was the one that brought Norodom family back from Thailand to rule Cambodia? Man I was I can talk with you face to face about our history.

    pano

    August 22, 2010 at 5:18 am

  6. Further more, “the Son of the Khmer Empire”, my
    father woked hard to serve his contry that he loved. Even sacraficed his live for Cambodia. And what did he get? What did his children get? Do you know how hard it is to grow up without a father?

    pano

    August 22, 2010 at 5:36 am

  7. Don’t worry,Sir. I am not asking for sympathy here. Let me tell you this. For Khmer to be great again Khmer must not and I repeat “MUST NOT” judge each other on a nameless basis. But we must embrase/unite all khmers, whether he/she is of mixed race or pure khmer. please understand we are all Khmer. And this must start with you.
    p/s
    Do you know how to speak and write Cambodian?
    Hope we can do this in Cambodian.

    pano

    August 22, 2010 at 5:45 am

  8. Pano,

    Thanks. Frankly, when i replied you the first time I really didnt know if you were a Siam or a Khmer. But I didnt accuse you as a Siam either because I used the word “IF”.

    You are right! And welcome if you want to discus whatever with me.

    You asked if I could write Khmer? Pls read my short bio (About Me) or read some of my booklets in MY BOOKS). Thank you Pano for your honesty!!!

  9. I think you should start reading your aug 18th post again. the sentences has implied meaning. It contain such ambiquity that only an idoit can go along with what you say. remember sir, this is not no backwood mountain man you’re talking to. you don’t go on a airplane and ask “if” there is a bomb onboard.
    no matter. i am a very lighthearted person. i forgive very easily. i don’t hold grudge, especially to my fellow Cambodian.
    p/s hope to talk to you more about Cambodia. bye

    pano

    August 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm

  10. to the Son of the Khmer Empire. If you did not know the truth about the Aphaiwongs family and The three cities that they ruled, you’ll never understand what had happen. First of all let’s talk about the “kings” of Cambodia. What have they done to ensure the future of Cambodia/Cambodian? All they did was allowing the V/C to annex the lower part of Cambodia one city after another. And who have those cities now? the V/c, of course. How about Battambong, Siemreap,sisopon that were ruled by the Aphaiwongs. Those cities are “now” still in the hand of the Cambodian. So who sold you/us out?
    P/s back in the late 1960’s and early 70’s there were a numbers of encursion/invasion by the V/C into Cambodia and they had Your king’s(sihanu)picture pinned on their shirts. please dig more into that…..

    Battambong's

    September 13, 2010 at 4:53 am

  11. Please sir, you can e-mail me any time….

    Battambong's Son

    September 13, 2010 at 4:54 am

  12. Reblogged this on Kaset Fair.

    Suthasana

    May 4, 2017 at 2:52 pm


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