Dear KI-Media Readers,
42 years ago, exactly to the date, Cambodia underwent a major change: we overthrew Prince Sihanouk. As a kid in elementary school, I still remember very clearly that day. Under normal circumstances, my father, who worked as a civil servant, invariably arrives home for lunch between 11:30 and noon. However, on March 18, 1970, my father came home quite late from his work. It was not until about mid-afternoon before he got home. In response to my mother’s anxious questions, he started telling us about the event of the day: the National Assembly decided to vote Prince Sihanouk out of power. We were all stunned by the turn of event, although, having heard on the news about the various unrests in the country, we knew that something may happen, but none of us expected that Prince Sihanouk, who more or less ruled Cambodia with his iron fist, could ever be removed from power.
I remembered asking my father what will happen to our country now that Sihanouk is no longer in power. He looked at me, smiled and said mischievously: “Don’t you worry son, he is not the only one who can rule this country.” From that day on, I noticed that my father would spend more time listening to the news, especially Beijing radio in the evening and Voice of America early in the morning. Several of his friends would stop by to discuss with him about the change that took place. Although I had no idea where we were heading into, I felt elated to the news: finally we could freely talk, read and learn about the misdeeds of Sihanouk regime and those of his cronies. Rumors circulating about the transportation of supplies to the Vietcong from Sihanoukville to the Vietnamese border are now on the frontpage of major newspapers. Several of my father’s friends decided to join the military rank, however, he stubbornly declined the offer.
As my family came from the border with Vietnam, it was not long before we started to feel the impact of the regime change. Suddenly, our house was filled with relatives who had to flee our village with the advance of the Vietcong/North Vietnamese Army. Subsequently, our village also witnessed the arrival of the South Vietnamese army. One of my cousins who decided to remain in the village told us later: “The South Vietnamese soldiers are thieves, they looted everything, even entire wooden houses were dismantled and taken over to South Vietnam.” I believe it was after that event that he decided to join the Khmer Rouge, meanwhile, his brother, an army officer, was fighting for the Khmer Republic. Both brothers would never see each other again: the army officer was killed by the KR shortly after they took power in 1975 and the one who joined the KR died of starvation and/or disease during the KR reign of terror.
If I had to relive these events all over again, having seen what abyss Cambodia has fallen into nowadays, I would gladly endorse a movement to rid Cambodia of the current and past useless monarchy which only serves as a rubber stamp to the tyrannical CPP regime.
Politics aside, please allow me to share with you a few songs from the Khmer Republic era. I have chosen these songs because they are NOT the ones you are used to hear (such as Lea Srey Tov Chhbang by Sin Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea etc…), but they represent a fresh crop of songs from that era that expressed our hope and our apprehension. Some of the songs are from unknown groups (at least they are to me), if any of you know these groups, please share the information with us.
Thank you for your time,
P. from Long Beach
PS: To T. from Ldn! Thank you for explaining clearly what I couldn’t do too well.
Unknown Group - Yuvachon Yuvatey Cheat Khmer
Unknown Group - Sa'ek Bang Chol Thveu Yuth-chon
Unknown Group - Neak Poar Krahorm
Unknown Group - Korng Pol Thmeur Cheung Ti 12
Unknown Group - Ayuk Min Oss Min Slab
Thet Sambath and Pen Ram - Para Toap Khmer
Pen Ran - Khnhom Phnheur Chamrieng
Duch Kim Hak - Cheat Trov Kar Neak Heuy