Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Book Review of "Vandy Kaonn - History of Cambodia in Three Volumes" by Chuth Khay

A Googlish version in English is provided at the end of the original text in French

Meilleur titre de l’année 2010

VANDY Kaonn
Histoire du Cambodge en trois volumes
(Vol.1 : 352 p ; Vol.2 : 358p ; Vol.3 : 320p)
Manuel de référence

Une oeuvre colossale de trois volumes jamais réalisée par les historiens khmers et qui a sorti récemment en France et fait beaucoup de bruits parmi la diaspora khmère. Je l’ai lue. Et voici la recension qui ne reflète que mon opinion. Chaque lecteur jugera l’oeuvre comme il l’entend.

Dans l’écriture, VANDY Kaonn n’est pas le premier venu. Au Cambodge comme en France, il a déjà publié plusieurs ouvrages : livres didactiques, essais, romans. Je les ai tous parcourus. Pour son dernier titre « Histoire du Cambodge », l’auteur s’est donné corps et âme pour le faire pondre, et ce malgré son état de santé. Et comment ne pas réagir à cette oeuvre imposante surtout lorsqu’elle a été écrite par un grand intellectuel cambodgien qui est en même temps historien, sociologue, journaliste et écrivain. Nos compatriotes ont fait grand cas de lui. Mais ce qui est regrettable pour moi c’est que l’ouvrage ne couvre qu’à partir de l’époque coloniale à 1992. S’il commençait des origines jusqu’à aujourd’hui le livre serait composé d’une dizaine de volumes. Cependant l’auteur relate succinctement dans le volume 3 les faits historiques s’étendant de 1993 à 2000. Ce sont en quelque sorte des documents additifs pour mieux comprendre l’histoire contemporaine de notre pays.

Avec la fluidité du style, le livre de Kaonn est passionnant, captivant, poétique, pathétique et agréable à lire. On dirait un roman historique ou policier. Ses analyses et descriptions sont objectives et cohérentes. Au-delà de celles-ci, il s’autorise aussi à faire des commentaires et des réflexions personnelles. On y trouve quelque chose de solaire. L’auteur ne s’écarte pas de la déontologie des historiens qui est celle de l’impartialité.


Et voici un extrait d’un paragraphe du volume 2 page 18 : «.. On peut dire que l’histoire est l’âme d’une nation, un patrimoine commun. Plusieurs évènements y ont été relatés pour que les générations futures sachent ce que faisaient nos ancêtres et leurs réactions devant les obstacles qui surgissaient….L’histoire n’est pas seulement ces divers évènements mais c’est la lutte et le combat d’une nation. Une nation ne pourrait vivre que si elle avait comme preuve son histoire, sa mémoire et sa culture. Et c’est dans cet esprit que j’ai écrit Histoire du Cambodge..) .

Pendant 90 ans de protectorat français (1963-1953), notre pays a connu des hauts et des bas : évitement de justesse le partage de notre pays par les Yuons et les Siems, abolition de l’esclavage (V.I, page 77) et restitution en 1946 de nos deux provinces de l’Ouest (Battambang et Siemreap. Mais nous avons connu aussi des déboires par la perte en 1949 d’une grande partie de notre territoire, la Cochinchine ou Kampuchea Krom.

Dans les années 40 et 50, notre pays était endeuillé par la déportation, la disparition et la mort de plusieurs de nos patriotes : déportation en 1942 de Achar Hèm Chiev, Pach Chhoeun et leurs amis au bagne de Poulo Condor ; mort prématurée du prince Sissovath Yutévong, Président du Conseil des Ministres et du parti démocrate (11 juillet 1947), assassinat de Iv Koes, président de l’assemblée nationale (14 janvier 1950) puis de Saint Savat janvier 1959), écrivain et auteur du célèbre roman (Mohar Chor Neou tul Dèn). Janvier 1959 était marqué aussi par la disparition d’une grande figure de notre histoire, Sam Sary, père de Sam Rainsy, un des artisans de l’Indépendance du Cambodge et un négociateur coriace à la conférence de Genève de 1954. Il a été accusé de traître par le roi Sihanouk, et réhabilité par celui-ci en 2003 (V.I, pages : 102, 110, 210 ).

A mon avis jusqu’en 1955, date de son abdication, Sihanouk était très animé par un élan patriotique. Mais à partir de cette date son parcours était étonnant. En effet l’écrasement du parti démocrate après la création du Sangkum Reastr Niyum, le règne sans partage, sa politique de bascule entre les deux grandes puissances et de fausse neutralité, l’autorisation aux troupes vietcong et nord vietnamiennes d’installer leur base militaire sur notre territoire puis l’exécution des Khmers rouges et sérey sonnaient le glas de la fin prochaine du régime de Notre Samdach Euv . Il me semble que Sihanouk, en créant dans son royaume, le poste de Chef de l’Etat (1960), une institution républicaine, était le précurseur du régime républicain (a.122 de la constitution de 1947). Il l’occupait de 1960 jusqu’à sa chute le 18 mars 1970. Selon cet article, le Chef de l’Etat était élu par les deux assemblées réunies en congrès. Et d’après l’avis d’un éminent juriste (cf. Le Cambodge de Jean Delvert, collection « Que sais-je ? » ) « .. toute l’action de Sihanouk gouvernant à partir de 1960 était anticonstitutionnelle ».

Mais ce qui est absolument inadmissible et incompréhensible pour nos compatriotes c’est qu’après sa déposition par les deux assemblées, le prince a fait appel aux troupes vietcong et nord vietnamiennes installées sur notre territoire d’envahir le Cambodge. Ensuite il s’est jeté dans les bras des Khmers rouges qu’il avait qualifiés de Khmers dékhmèrisés (V.I, page 276 ; V.II, pages 30 à 33 – Cf. aussi mon livre « Comment j’ai menti aux Khmers rouges » publié en 2004 chez l’Harmattan). A partir d’avril 1970 jusqu’à le « retrait » des troupes de l’occupation (1989), notre pays était plongé dans un océan de sang et de larmes, et que même les eaux du vaste Mékong ne suffiront pas à les laver. Des millions de morts et de blessés jonchaient le sol de notre chère patrie Quant aux sans-abris ils y erraient comme des âmes de nos morts.

Notons aussi que la construction du Mur de bambou, K5, sous le gouvernement de Chan Sy (1984) (Cf.Esmeralda Luciolli) a coûté aussi des milliers de morts, de blessés et de malades. Sur ce drame, l’auteur dépeint avec réalisme la douleur et la déchéance de notre peuple (V.II, pages 229, 230 et 231). « Les rescapés de K.5 rentrent chez eux mais tous sont porteurs de paludisme. Ils meurent à petit feu. Tous les jours la musique funèbre déchire le ciel. Les gens jasent : Après les Chinois ce sont les Vietnamiens et vice versa. Et ce sont les Cambodgiens qui payent leurs frais. Si cette guerre continue la race khmère sera éteinte ».

Après l’accord de Paris de 1991, notre pays a retrouvé le calme. Une élection libre organisée par l’ONU en 1993 s’est déroulée aussi dans le calme. Le parti royaliste du prince Ranariddh a été déclaré vainqueur. Mais un coup de théâtre s’est produit. Hun Sèn contestait le résultat. Tandis que Chakrapong, vice Premier ministre du gouvernement de celui-ci, préférait la sécession de la partie Est du Cambodge au lieu d’aider son frère à diriger le pays. Quant à Samdech Euv, il obligeait Ranariddh à partager le pouvoir avec Hun Sèn oubliant ainsi la volonté du peuple khmer. La démocratie a été mise au rancart. Les vainqueurs sont devenus vaincus. Et un gouvernement avec deux Premiers Ministres ( bicéphalisme ou dyarchie) a été formé, une histoire que l’on n’a jamais vue depuis que le monde est monde. Comment deux tigres pouvaient vivre ensemble dans une même montagne. Le coup de force de 1998 en était la preuve. Ainsi se termine les trois volumes de l’Histoire du Cambodge de
Kaonn.

Fleuron de nos lettres, le livre de Vandy Kaonn est, en quelque sorte, un patrimoine commun qui honore notre pays et qui finira par profiter à nos compatriotes, aux chercheurs et à tous ceux qui sont friands de l’histoire de notre pays.

CHUTH Khay
Ancien doyen de la faculté de droit de Phnom Penh
-----------------
The following is an automated English translation by Google
Best title of 2010

Vandy Kaon
Cambodian history in three volumes
(Vol.1: 352 p., Vol.2: 358p; Vol.3: 320p)
Reference Manual

A colossal work of three volumes by historians ever Khmer and has recently released in France and made much noise among the Khmer diaspora. I read it. And here's the review that reflects only my opinion. Each reader will work as it sees fit.

In writing, Vandy Kaon is not the first comer. In Cambodia as in France, he has published several books: educational books, essays, novels. I have them all covered. For his latest title "History of Cambodia", the author has given body and soul for the spawn, and despite his condition. And how not to react to this imposing work especially when it was written by a great intellectual Cambodian is also a historian, sociologist, journalist and writer. Our compatriots have made much of him. But what is unfortunate for me is that the book does that from colonial times to 1992. If the origins until today began the book would consist of ten volumes. However, the author recounts briefly in Volume 3 of the historical facts from 1993 to 2000. This is somewhat of additional documents to better understand the contemporary history of our country.

With the fluidity of style, the book kaon is exciting, exciting, poetic, touching and fun to read. It looks like a historical novel or a policeman. Its analysis and descriptions are objective and consistent. Beyond these, he also allows himself to make comments and personal reflections. There is something solar. The author does not depart from the ethics of historians is that of impartiality.

And here is an excerpt from a paragraph of Volume 2 page 18: ".. We can say that history is the soul of a nation, a common heritage. Several events have been recounted so that future generations know what our ancestors did and their reactions to the obstacles that arose. ... The story is not only the various events but the struggle and the struggle of a nation. A nation can not live like that if it had proof its history, memory and culture. And in this spirit that I wrote History of Cambodia ..).

During 90 years of French protectorate (1963-1953), our country has had its ups and downs: narrowly avoiding the sharing of our country by Yuon and Siems, abolition of slavery (VI, page 77) and restitution in 1946 our two western provinces (Battambang and Siem Reap. But we also know the setbacks in 1949 by the loss of much of our territory, Cochin or Kampuchea Krom.

In years 40 and 50, our country was plunged into mourning by deportation, disappearance and death of many of our patriots deportation in 1942 of Achar Hem Chiev, Pach Chhoeun and their friends in the galleys of Pulo Condor, untimely death of Prince Sissovath Yutévong, Chairman of the Council of Ministers and the Democratic Party (July 11, 1947), murder of Iv Koes, president of the National Assembly (January 14, 1950) and Saint Savat January 1959), writer and author of famous novel (Mohar Chor Neou tul Den). January 1959 was also marked by the disappearance of a major figure in our history, Sam Sary, father of Sam Rainsy, one of the architects of the Independence of Cambodia and a tough negotiator at the Geneva Conference of 1954. He was charged as a traitor by King Sihanouk, and refurbished by it in 2003 (VI, pages 102, 110, 210).

In my opinion until 1955, the date of his abdication, Sihanouk was very animated by a patriotic fervor. But from that time his career was amazing. Indeed, the crash of the Democratic Party after the creation of Sangkum Reastr Niyum the reigns supreme, his policy flip-flop between the two superpowers and false neutrality, permitting the Vietcong and North Vietnamese troops set up their military base our territory and then execution of the Khmer Rouge and Serey sounded the death knell of the approaching end of the regime of Our Samdach Euv. It seems to me that Sihanouk, in his kingdom by creating the post of Head of State (1960), a republican institution, was the precursor of the Republican (s.122 of the Constitution of 1947). He held from 1960 until his fall March 18, 1970. According to this article, the Head of State was elected by both houses met in Congress. And in the opinion of an eminent jurist (cf. John Delvert Cambodia, collection "Que sais-je?") ".. all the action of governing Sihanouk from 1960 was unconstitutional. "

But what is absolutely unacceptable and incomprehensible to our countrymen that after his deposition by the two assemblies, the prince called upon Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops installed on our territory to invade Cambodia. Then he threw himself into the arms of the Khmer Rouge that he had qualified Khmer dékhmèrisés (VI, p. 276; V. II, pages 30 to 33 - see also my book "How I lied to the Khmer Rouge" published in 2004 by L'Harmattan). From April 1970 until the "withdrawal" of troops from the occupation (1989), our country was plunged into an ocean of blood and tears, and even the vast waters of the Mekong are not enough to wash . Millions of dead and wounded littered the floor of our beloved country As for the homeless as they wandered the souls of our dead.

Note also that the Wall bamboo, K5, under the government of Chan Sy (1984) (Cf.Esmeralda Luciolli) also claimed thousands of dead, wounded and sick. In this drama, the author realistically depicts the pain and deprivation of our people (V. II, pages 229, 230 and 231). "The survivors K.5 go home but all are carriers of malaria. They die slowly. Every day the funeral music rips the sky. People chatting: After the Chinese are the Vietnamese and vice versa. And what are the Cambodians who pay their fees. If this war continues the Khmer race will be extinct. "

After the Paris Agreement of 1991, our country has returned to calm. A free election organized by the UN in 1993 also took place peacefully. The royalist party of Prince Ranariddh was declared the winner. But a dramatic turn of events occurred. Hun Sen challenged the result. While Chakrapong, Vice Prime Minister of the Government thereof, preferred secession of the eastern part of Cambodia instead of helping his brother to lead the country. As for Samdech Euv, he forced Ranariddh to share power with Hun Sen forgetting the will of the Khmer people. Democracy has been scrapped. The winners become losers. And a government with two prime ministers (two-headedness or diarchy) was formed, a story that has never seen since the world began. How could two tigers to live together in a mountain. The coup of 1998 was proof. Thus ended the three-volume History of Cambodia
Kaons.

The flagship of our letters, the book is Vandy Kaon, somehow, a common heritage that honors our country and that will eventually benefit our compatriots, researchers and all those who are fond of the history of our country.

CHUTH Khay
Former Dean of the Faculty of Law, Phnom Penh

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I never read Khmer History written by Khmers before. This would be a dream collection for me if it were published in English.

ជនពាល said...

លោកវ៉ានឌីកាអុន ពិតជាបញ្ញាវន្ដខ្មែរម្នាក់ ដែលមាននិន្នាការអព្យាក្រិតជាទីបំផុត។
លោកជាមនុស្សដែលមានទេពកោសល្យល្អណាស់ ក្នុងការស្វែងយល់នូវប្រវត្តសាស្រ្តខ្មែរ​ ។ មិនតែប៉ុណ្ណោះ លោកពូកែខាងវិភាគ
ទៅលើពាក្យពេចន៍ កាព្យឃ្លោង ព្រមទាំងរឿងនិទានផ្សេងៗដែលមហាកវីខ្មែរបាននិពន្ធកន្លងមក !

Anonymous said...

well, there's a first time for everything. glad to see a khmer person finally writes a khmer history book. we need more khmer intellectuals like this, not to say we don't welcome western historians and intellects who write about cambodian history as well. i'm just glad there is now a khmer person to do this as well. that's all! god bless all.

Anonymous said...

Good analysis and naratives especially during Vietnamese occupation from 1979-89. I knew that around that time, Mr. Vandy still lived in cambodia as a high-ranked government official, he knew more detail about K-5 plan that killed thousands of Khmer people. This Khmer History is more independent and far better than the khmer History written by Mr. Long Seam.

Anonymous said...

Good analysis and naratives especially during Vietnamese occupation from 1979-89. I knew that around that time, Mr. Vandy still lived in cambodia as a high-ranked government official, he knew more detail about K-5 plan that killed thousands of Khmer people. This Khmer History is more independent and far better than the khmer History written by Mr. Long Seam.

Anonymous said...

* yes!!!!Mr Prof Van Dy Ka on,He is a Good Khmer intellectual,After Pol pot regime.His not the same former Prof Rorss chanTra Bott,sok an,imm choun lim ect....!!!!His will know about Mr Mam Bunaray and chao va activities since year1981.But his not ANTI with H.S 100%.Hun sen Turn on Green light for him for escaped to France.since year 1979 I heard his name in radio Phnom penh about his job big the same choum Teav Mith Neary Men sam Ann.But his is a Real Khmer Nationalist and socialist. If His unlucky and not out from Cambodia To Paris,France, May bee his Jail by Hanoi or Die by Hanoi Poison [1980-81]or if his Lucky,May bee his the same Prof: Sok an or imm chhoun lim.But I really like him than Ross chan Tra bott.
RESPECTFULLY FROM KHMER 1970 TO Mr VAN DY KA ON.
KHMER1970

Anonymous said...

You may shoot me down for my position, curse me and accuse me of defending an indefensible institution, history is history, whether it is bad or good, and you cannot distort it to fit your position.

P. from Long Beach

Google Translate:

Vous pouvez me tirer vers le bas de ma position, me maudire et m'accuser de défendre une institution indéfendable, l'histoire est l'histoire, si elle est bonne ou mauvaise, et vous ne pouvez pas fausser pour l'adapter à votre position.

P. from Long Beach

Anonymous said...

here is Sam rainsy,He is agay weakness, He don't have burning desire to victory, he do not have passion, he do not have mentor, he not work well with other, his team works are very very, weak, now, we clearly see sam rainsy, are geting deeper, deeper, and deeper to nothings, He surounding himself with bizare, wierds and low attitud peoples, how he claim himself a leader?. Rainsy show up some disciplinary, mental toughness and organize as vissonary to your supporter. You may too weak to lift people up or to rise to the top maximum perfoment for success. you Rainsy better let Son chay lead the RSP he much better with people skile than you.

Anonymous said...

I have read the article in French and in English.
The fifth paragraph," Pendant 90 ans de protectorat francais (1963-1953)"
Maybe (1863-1953),not (1963-1953).
Some in French words,I missed spelling like word,"francais".
I am sorry too.
To get power back,Sihanouk called Vietnamese soldiers to invade Cambodia in 1970.This greedy power king was not afraid of killing his own citizens.
Some Khmer historians in the past couldn't write the true history of each kings or leaders of Cambodia.
Thank for writing new Khmer history.
So,the next new Khmer young generations can read about their own nation history.But not just read our own,we should read
history countries around us such Thai,Vietnam,and Lao history also because sometimes
they told different
stories.
Thank for sharing Khmer history article.

Anonymous said...

ការចាញ់បោកអ្នកនយោបាយមួយក្រុមនៅទីក្រុង
ប៉ារីស បាននាំអោយលោក វ៉ាន់ឌីកាអុន រត់ចោល
ស្រុកនៅពេលដែលប្រទេសកំពុងត្រូវការកសាង
ពីចំណុចសូន្យ។

ពីអ្នកបើកបរតាក់ស៊ីម្នាក់នៅប៉ារីស

Anonymous said...

You are right Mr វ៉ានឌី កាអុន.
You are also right Mr Chuth Khay.
I keep you both in my heart !

Anonymous said...

To Mr. Chuth Khay,
You have translated and have authored many books since the 60's.
Could you make them available online so the later Khmer generation could read your books.
Happy New Year to you and your family.

From your former law student and your former co-worker at P.Penh Martial Court.