Two Observation: Khmer-Thai by Charnvit Ks


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Two Observations: Cambodian-Thai Relations --- Religion, Politics, Nationalism
and an Ancient Temple

Background and Contemporary Debates
of the 2011 Cambodia-Thai Border

AAS-ICAS Annual Conference
Honolulu, Hawaii 2011, 31 March 2011

Prof.Charnvit Kasetsiri
Thammasat University, Bangkok, Siam (Thailand)

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Two Observation: Khmer-Thai by Charnvit Ks

  1. 1. Two Observations: Cambodian-Thai RelationsOne: History TextbooksTwo: Turning the Battlefields intoHindu-BuddhistTrans-Boundary World Heritages
  2. 2. Two Observations: Cambodian-Thai Relations Religion, Politics, Nationalism and an Ancient Temple Background and Contemporary Debates of the 2011 Cambodia-Thai Border AAS-ICAS Annual Conference Honolulu, Hawaii 2011, 31 March 2011 Charnvit Kasetsiri Thammasat University Bangkok, Siam (Thailand)
  3. 3. One„Bad‟ History – „Bad‟ Education and „Bad‟ ASEAN Neighbour Relations
  4. 4. What I would like to do is to give you pictures of interactions between history-myth, education, textbooks, and Thailand/Siam‟s relations with her neighbors. In this age of globalization and even with regional organizations like ASEAN/GMS/ASEM/ADB we seem to have some difficulties as good neighbors to one another. We will see that the use of the Past, History-myth, if not up-right, incorrectly perceived, negatively and politically exploited could produce an unpleasant outcome.In other words „bad history‟ produces „bad education‟ and eventually leads to „bad relations between nations‟.
  5. 5. On January 29, 2003, theThai Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia was torched and burnt down. Thai diplomats had to run for their lives. The Thai Government of Mr. Thaksin flew planes into Cambodia to evacuate all Thai citizens from Phnom Penh. This ugly episode of Thai-Cambodian relations started with a news that a popular Thai TV female star was reported to have said that„she would not visit Cambodia unless the 800 year-old temple of Angkor Wat was returned to Thailand‟. I, personally, do not believe that the Thai star said that kind of word. But the news, regarded as a serious insult to the Cambodian Nation, spread like fire. It was reported in Khmer newspapers and radio. On top of that there was a rumor that Cambodian diplomats in Bangkok were brutally murdered. There were students demonstrations which eventually led to the burning and looting of the Thai Embassy.
  6. 6. Cambodian FlagKob SuwananNiang Prakai Pruk Angkor WatThai TV star
  7. 7. Students began their protest by marching through the city and burned a Thai flag and a photograph of Kob-Suwanan outside the embassy. The size of the demonstration swelled to around one thousand and thecrowd became more aggressive as the day progressed, burning tyres andthrowing rocks at the embassy. After a day of flag-burning and anti-Thai chanting, the crowd massed outside the embassy towards nightfall.
  8. 8. Royal Thai Embassy: Phnom Penh Thailand estimates the damage at about US$ 23 million and has demanded that Phnom Penh reimburse both the Thai government and the businesses affected. Bangkok has cut all economic and technical assistance pending a full explanation and compensation by Cambodia. It also demanded that those responsible be jailed.
  9. 9. ``The protest is because we hate the Thais inside Cambodia andbecause the Thais encroach on Cambodian border territory, said Virak, an 18-year-old law student.
  10. 10. TwoPreah Vihear – Phra Viharn Temple Unesco World Heritage 2008-2011
  11. 11. Preah Vihear TempleUnesco World Heritage since 2008
  12. 12. 14
  13. 13. Turning a Market Place into Battlefields
  14. 14. สงคราม หรือ สันติภาพWar or Peace
  15. 15. Battlefields - Thai-Cambodian Border
  16. 16. Village Houses Burning:Thai-Cambodian Border February 2011
  17. 17. Phum Srol-Srisaket : Reds versus Yellows along the Border 2008Battlefields Thai versus Thai along the Border 2008-2011
  18. 18. As you can see the incidents in the Angkor- remark in 2003 and Preah Vihear Unesco Heritage Affairs of 2008-2011 are unpleasant and tragic. They may lead to a bigger war between the two Asean countries: Cambodia and Thailand.
  19. 19. One may ask why these two events happened and how come such a remark about “Angkor Wat” and simply the Temple nomination to the Unesco could spark up such ugly incidents ? We may explain that it is because of:1. Khmer-Thai brands of Nationalism ?2. Political Conflict and Manipulation ?3. Love and Hate Relationship: Khmers & Thais4. Unequal and Expliotative Relationship ?5. Misundertanding & misuse of the Past/History etc. etc.
  20. 20. As a history teacher of Thailand/Siam and Southeast Asia/Asean,I would like to look and try to understand it from my own professional angle, i.e. the use and misuse of History-myth and the Past, in my own country.
  21. 21. • First, let us see how the Thai in general see their neighbors. • By land Thailand/Siam is surrounded by mainland ASEAN countries: Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia. If we includeisland-neighbors, or by the sea, they would cover India, Indonesiaand Vietnam as well. As is known to all of you, in the colonial era, Siam (Thailand) remainedthe only independent country in Southeast Asia („history-myth‟).• Therefore, from mid 19th century until after the Second World War the Thai Government in Bangkok had to pay attention to what the colonial powers would have to say. Bangkok had to deal with London and the British in India and Singapore, Paris and the French in Vietnam.• The Thai Elite need no concern nor having anything to do with the Burmese in Rangoon, the Lao in Vientiane, the Khmer in Phnom Penh, the Vietnamese in Saigon or Hanoi, nor the Malay in Kuala Lumpur, etc. Asians were kept apart from one another.
  22. 22. 1920s Cartoon in Siam: Showing Rama VI, the King of Siam (Thailand) pulling his Thai People high up, while Burmese, Vietnamese and Cambodian were left down below. In the background five former Bangkok Kings, Rama I-II-III-IV-V, were watching up in the sky.Cartoon from Vajiravudh‟s Time (Dusit Samit)
  23. 23. • In one of his interviews, Nidhi A., a leading Thai historian, explained how the Thai, especially the elite, see the neighbors. To us the Burmese have become a „permanent national enemy‟• This was an outcome of Thai history writing from the latter part of the 19th century. For „nation-building‟, an enemy was needed to unify the people within Siam/Thailand while the country was threatened by the British and the French.• Burma which in the pre-colonial time, used to have frequent wars with the Thai had already been colonized by the British. They were no longer a threat.• So the wars between Ayutthaya and various Burmese Kingdoms have been high-lighted to show the struggle of the Thai people in the Past and to be a lesson for our unity in the Present. Illustrations like these are regularly portrayed in school textbooks. The episodes of the fall of the former Thai capital of Ayutthaya and the suffering and bravity of the Thai are also repeatedly reproduced in drama, songs, novels, films, and TV series.
  24. 24. Bang Rachan History-Myth-Texts-Films-Plays-Songs Villagers of Bang Rachan fighting the Burmese, allKing Naresuanin an elephant dual died heroic death during thefighting a Burmese Prince Fall of Ayutthaya in 1767.
  25. 25. King Naresuan Naresuan Kingin an myth-historical dual Villagers of Bang Rachan in an elephant fighting a Burmese Princeelephant dual fighting the Burmese, allfighting a Burmese Princedied heroic death during the Fall of Ayutthaya in 1767.
  26. 26. LAOS and CAMBODIA (what and how to the Thai)• As for Laos and Cambodia, we, Thai viewed these neighbors rather inferior.• They, the Lao and the Cambodians, have been seen as „younger‟ (smaller) and poorer.• In the past, during Ayutthaya and early Bangkok periods, they were seen as our muang khuen or “colonies”.• In the present they are less developped and poorer. So I would say that relationship with Laos and Cambodia is even much more difficult, complicated, sensitve, and problematic.
  27. 27. History Writing, Textbook, and the Ministry of Education• In Thailand/Siam stop signs with warnings like: “Official Property, Do Not Enter without Permission”, are not uncommon. They are symbols of authority and a reminder to „know one‟s place‟ in this „bureaucratic polity‟.• As a history teacher for more than thirty years I have the impression that history is also an official domain and there is no trespassing.• This forbidden area is noticeable in what is, or correctly, is not, written „in‟ textbooks, especially for six-year primary and six-year secondary school students.
  28. 28. Fourth Year, Primary Sch. Students Aged 10 THAI HISTORY Chapter 1: Urban Settlements in Thailand Chapter 2: Kingdom of Sukhothai Chapter 3: Contemporaries of Sukhothai(Hariphunchai, Lanna, Phayao-Phrae-Nan, Nakhon Sithammarat, Ayutthaya)No Pagan, no Angkor, no Champa, no Melayu, etc. etc = no neighbors.
  29. 29. Perception of „mythical‟Past for 4th Year-Aged10 Primary SchoolTextbookSukhothaiThe „first‟ ThaiKingdom13th-15th centuriesShown in the Map ofBoundary coveringMalacca &Temasek/Singapore ?
  30. 30. Fifth Year, Primary Sch. Students Aged 11 Thai History Chapter 1:Foundation of the Ayutthaya KingdomChapter 2: Political and Administrative Evolution of Ayutthaya Chapter 3: Economic Evolution of Ayutthaya Chapter 4: Social and Buddhist EvolutionChapter 5: Wars with the Burmese and Falls of Ayutthaya Chapter 6: New Capital: Thonburi (Bangkok)
  31. 31. 1767 Fall of Ayutthaya: completely „destroyed‟ by the „Burmese‟ !?
  32. 32. Besides Textbooks, novels, drama, songs, Wars of„national independence‟ films and TV series about with „Burma‟ !?Ayutthaya/Burmese have been repeated or of between Kings and Kings !? reproduced and reinvented Queens and Queens!? Queen Sudachan Father: By former Minister of Edcation !?
  33. 33. Besides Textbooks, novels, drama, songs, films and TV series about Ayutthaya/Burmese have been repeated reproduced and reinvented Father: By formerMinister of Edcation !?
  34. 34. Mythical-historical Wars of „National Independence‟Between „Thailand‟ and „Burma‟ Nation vs Nation !!!???or of between Kings/Queens and Kings/Queens !!!??? Queen Sudachan
  35. 35. King Naresuan Part I-II-III etc. Series of History Mythical Films heavily funded with public money disregard To Neighbors
  36. 36. กรุงยโสธรปุระ-อาณาจักรพระนคร-นครวัด-นครธมANGKOR (Contemporary of Ayutthaya, but…)
  37. 37. สร้างกรุงยโสธรปุระBirth of Angkor, not mentioned
  38. 38. The Fall of Angkor 1431, not mentioned Concluding words
  39. 39. • Myth-history: Problematic Textbooks• ‘Siam-Thailand’ nationally confined, no neighbors• Fall of Angkor 1431, not mentioned• King Chao Sam Phraya, attacking Angkor• เสียกรุงศรียโสธรปุระ พ.ศ. ๑๙๗๔/๑๔๓๑• ถูกกองทัพอยุธยาของพระเจ้าสามพระยาโจมตี
  40. 40. Sixth Year, Primary Sch. Students Aged 12 THAI HISTORY Chapter 1: Revival of the Country in Early Bangkok Period Chapter 2: Thailand Entered the Modern Age („lost‟ of territories (เสียดินแดน 1940s) to the Western powers: Left Bank of the Mekong (Laos), 1893, Siem Reap, Battambang, Sisophon, 1907 Kedah, Palis, Kelantan, Trengganu, 1909, and remained independent) Chapter 3: Democratic Administrative Change Chapter 4: Evolution of Democratic9 King Ramas of Bangkok Era Administration
  41. 41. Big „Lost‟ of Territories to theWestern powers, the British and the French:Laos or the whole area of the left bank of the Mekong River, 1893Cambodia, Siem Reap (Angkor Wat), Battambang, Sisophon 1907 Malaysia: Kedah/Saiburi, Pelis, Kelantan, Terengganu, 1909 And Siam/Thailand remained independent: history-myth ?
  42. 42. Ultra-Nationalism reproduced 2008-11Internet-online-long distance nationalism Modern or anachronistic !!!???
  43. 43. How much TERRITORIEShave we LOST ? 14 or 15 times !!! ???
  44. 44. Biggest Lost, No 12 !!!??? Inner Cambodia, 1907Siem Reap (Angkor Wat), Battambang, Sisophon
  45. 45. Interestingly, what we do not know-inconvenient truth, Khmer „mapped‟
  46. 46. A leading Thai historian, Thongchai Winichakul, has this concluding word about Thai history:• “Historical studies in Thailand have been closely related to the formation of the nation since the late nineteenth century...• It presented a royal/national chronicle, a historiography modern in character but based upon traditional perceptions of the past and traditional materials.• It was a collection of stories by and for the national elite celebrating their successful mission of building and protecting the country despite great difficulties, and promising a prosperous future.• The plot and meaning of this melodramatic past have become a paradigm of historical discourse, making history an ideological weapon and a source of legitimation of the state.”
  47. 47. Concluding words for Cambodian, Thai,Southeast Asians and ASEAN Community Concluding words
  48. 48. ONE Our Texts on History and the Past of Thailand/Siam(including most of the Asean/GMS countries) especially in relations with our Neighbors are problematic and need a serious reform.
  49. 49. TWO Our History Texts must be revised in order to be up-right,correctly perceived in order for us to live peaceful together in this age of Regionalism-Asean Community/GMS and Globalization.
  50. 50. THREE We, Cambodian, Lao, Thai, Vietnamese (including all Asean/GMS citizens)need to know and understand not just about ourselves but also in relations with our Neighbors, especially the closed ones on mainland Southeast Asia i.e. Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Thailand/Siam.
  51. 51. FOUR What has happened in the PAST can not be changedbut what is happening in the PRESENT can be rescued for the FUTURE.
  52. 52. FIVE Perhaps an urgently needed task of ASEAN/GMS Education Ministers + 3 or 4(i.e. China, Japan, Korea, India, or even Taiwan), together with some NGOs or education-oriented organizations, is to sit down and work out together. New Textbooks, new Histories, for the sake of peace, prosperity, and friendship of the ASEAN Community are urgently needed.
  53. 53. SIX Creating Network and Linkage of Peoples to Peoples---Locals to Locals(not just Governments to Governments as usual) Academics to Academics Students to Students Youth to Youth (Traveling classrooms for Undergrads from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, etc. From Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh to Bangkok to Vientiane and to Hanoi)
  54. 54. That was my Observation one:Revising History Textbooks for ASEANNow, Observation two: Turning theBattlefields into Hindu-Buddhist Trans-Boundary ASEAN World Heritages:
  55. 55. เทือกเขาพนมดงรัก (ไทย) – แดงเร็ก (กัมพูชา)Phanom Dongrak in Thai – Chuŏr Phnum Dângrêk in Cambodian: LAND-MOUNTAINS OF PRASAT IN CAMBODIA-LAOS-THAILAND
  57. 57. To avoid War, my second proposal is that:--from the Dong Phyayen-Khao Yai Forest, inKhorat, Thailand…,--all the way along the Phnom Dangrek Mountiansto Prasat Phnom Rung, to Prasat Preah Vihear andPrasat Vat Phou….--to the Biggest Waterfalls of Asia, i.e. Khon Papengand Li Phi…--should be turned into: AN ASEAN ECO-CULTURALTRANS-BOUNDARY WORLD HERITAGE SITES
  58. 58. The Emerald Triangle Land-Mountains-WaterCambodia-Laos-Thialand
  59. 59. Khon Phapheng Falls
  60. 60. Khon Phapeng-Li Phi Phnom Dangrek:?Khao Yai: Falls ? WH Preah Vihear: WH Phnom Rung ? Vat Phou:WH ASEAN ECO-CULTURAL TRANS-BOUNDARY WORLD HERITAGE SITES
  61. 61. Hindu-Buddhist Prasats-Mountains and Rivers Phnom Dangrek-Middle Mekong Basin belonging to Cambodia-Laos-Siam/Thailand
  62. 62. Lesson from Latin America Iguaçu Falls น้าตกอีกวาซู
  63. 63. ParaguayArgentina Brazil
  64. 64. •ARGENTINAIndependently inscribed 1984 •BRAZILIndependently inscribed 1987
  65. 65. BRAZIL 1987 ARGENTINA 1984
  66. 66. Lesson from Europe The Belfriesof Belgium and France Serially inscribed
  67. 67. World Heritage Belfries of Belgium and France Belgium France Belfries of Belgium and France serially nominated & inscribed
  68. 68. Khon Phapeng-Li Phi Phnom Dangrek:?Khao Yai: Falls ? WH Preah Vihear: WH Phnom Rung ? Vat Phou:WH ASEAN ECO-CULTURAL TRANS-BOUNDARY WORLD HERITAGE SITES
  69. 69. Phnom Wan Muang Tam Phimai Sra Kampaeng Yai-Noi Phnom Rung Bantei Cmar Preah Vihear Preah Khan Vat PhouSrok Kok Thom Waterfalls Prasat Noi Angkor Sambor Preikuk Thara Borivat Plus, plus, plus
  70. 70. The Emerald Triangle Land-Mountains-Water of the Dangrek and the Mekong Cambodia-Laos-Thialand serially nominated and inscribedas Asean Eco-cultural World Heritages
  71. 71. For Peace, Humanity and ASEAN Community Som Orkun Kho khob chai Khob khun krab