The Cambodian economy: 1904-1939

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The Cambodian economy: 1904-1939. Under the reigns of Sisowath (1904-1927) & Monivong (1927-1941). See articles in Siksācakr on rubber plantations. Dr Henri Locard at Center for Khmer Studies Phnom Penh. www.khmerstudies.org

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The Cambodian economy: 1904-1939

  1. 1. The Cambodian economy 1904-1941 Under the reigns of Sisowath (1904-1927) & Monivong (1927-1941)
  2. 2. Sources: John Tully – Margaret Slocomb & Nhiek Tioulong • France on the Mekong, 1863-1953, John Tully, 2002, see chapters 14 &16 • Colonial Cambodia’s ‘Bad Frenchmen’, The rise of French rule & the life of Thomas Caraman, 1840-87, Gregor Muller, 2006. • An Economic History of Cambodia in the XXth Century, Margaret Slocomb, chap. 1, “The Colonial economy,1863-1953”, NUS, Singapore 2010 • Colons & Coolies: The Development of Cambodia’s Plantations, Margaret Slocomb, White Lotus, 2006.
  3. 3. The weight of the past : a hermit State the victim both of its poor management & its ambitious neighbours. • Margaret Slocomb has pointed out that, before the arrival of the French, "Cambodia was literally at the mercy of its neighbours" (33). "Cambodia was divided into two spheres of influence with the Mekong acting as the line of demarcation between the Thai [Siamese] sphere in the east and the Vietnamese in the east."(32) • The majority of the population followed their traditional occupation of rice farming and fulfilled the roles of officials. Commerce, foreign trade and the riparian [= along he banks of rivers] markets gardens were the preserve of the Chinese, while the Cham fished and raised cattle. Compared to other states in the region, Cambodia was poor. Agricultural surpluses were uncommon, landholdings were small, yields were low, and irrigation systems were rare. There were few roads, so the villages were defenceless against bandits and rapacious officials.(33)
  4. 4. The weight of the past - 2 • Jan Ovesen: « And it is important to note (as did Forest 1980) that the Chinese did not own their chamkar land but leased it from the colonial government, thereby securing revenue for the state. » • Foreign trade was almost non-existent by 1850. Phnom Penh was effectively cut off from the outside world, and visitors required Vietnamese permission to reach it via the Mekong. Ports on the Gulf of Thailand, such as Kampot, Chandler records, were more integrated with Vietnamese and Thai [Siamese] economies than their own."(Colm, 33)
  5. 5. The economic rôle of the Chinese • ‘Chinese’ in Cambodia today is nowadays primarily an occupational category. Chinese immigrants from the southern provinces of Guangxi and Guangdong found trade and business opportunities in the country; others took leases on land to grow vegetables and fruit for the market (Willmott 1967). • These commercial occupations, comprising finance (and of late also including the microfinance business), have set them apart from the Khmer who were predominantly rice farmers (or civil servants, schoolteachers); that basic distinction still largely holds. The ‘Chinese’ are also Khmer; they speak the Khmer language and follow Khmer customs (call in Buddhist monks to their wedding and funeral ceremonies, for example). The distinctive ethnic Chinese society that existed earlier, and qualified Cambodia as a ‘plural society’, had largely disappeared by the 1970s (Willmott 1967, 1981). Almost the only things that give the ‘Chinese’ away nowadays are the Chinese shrines that are found in almost every market, shop, or restaurant, and the surprisingly large number of people who celebrate the Chinese New Year.’ (Ovesen Feb. 2014)
  6. 6. By 1904, who was managing the country ? • By the time Sisowath came to the throne, the main reforms listed in the 1884 Thomson Convention were being implemented: Cambodia bore the cost of the administration, while the King and the court were placed on a civil list, and slavery had been abolished. Not quite: • Jan Ovesen “Slavery had already been formally abolished by Ang Duong during the last years of his reign.. When the French did it again in the very late 19th century, it was hailed by colonial writers (e.g. Paul Collard 1925) as a major achievement for Liberté and Egalité. This is of course just rhetoric, the French reform concerned the pol and komlah categories of ‘hereditary slaves’ – a couple of thousand individuals altogether who were neither particularly oppressed, nor lived in abject poverty. Furthermore, head-tax could only be levied on free people, not on
  7. 7. Land ownership • « The Convention of 17th June 1884 amounted to a complete reorganisation of Cambodia: the number of provinces (then 56) was drastically reduced, the commune level of local government was introduced, the King’s Council of Ministers was made subordinate to the Résident supérieur, slavery was abolished, the royal family was put on a civil list, Cambodia would henceforth bear the expenses of the administration and, most significantly, private property [in land] was established.” (Slocomb, p. 21)
  8. 8. I - Agriculture • All historians underline that in this essentially agricultural society, with all the land being the King’s or crown property. It was informally leased to individual farmers who, if they failed to cultivate it for a period of 3 years, lost the usufruct of it. They paid essentially a paddy tax and a head tax or $2.50 piastres a year. • Jean Delvert, in his famous Le Paysan cambodgien, points out that as late as 1957, out of a population of 4,600,000 in habitants, there were 3,700,000 farmers. Those were generally small holders, except a few in Battambang Battambang province and the large rubber plantations Kompong Cham, Kompong Thom, Prey Veng and Kratie. In the course of the Protectorate, the farming population would be be multiplied by four.
  9. 9. Land ownership Article 9 of the 1884 Convention specified, "the land of the kingdom, so far the exclusive property of the crown, will cease to be inalienable"( Slocomb, 40) 2 diverging interpretations: 1st, land an be privatized, as in “the enclosure movement” in Europe: gate open to agrarian revolution, to be followed by industrial revolution. Door open to concessions owned by foreigners. 2nd interpretation, of John Tully & Gregor Muller: the colonizing power becomes owner of the entire territory and does what it pleases with it.
  10. 10. Land ownership – 2 : The critics to the French colonialism • John Tully, Chap. 16, King Rubber: “created a new class of super-exploited rural proletarians”, “Khmer distaste for plantation work”, “The Tonkinese bonded labourers”, “The human livestock’ at Mimot”, “Labour inspector Deklamare’s report” “Psychological damage ”, “sons of bitches & starvation wages” (310-326). • Gergor Muller has a mission: he writes in the name of his « indignation of the way in which large parts of humanity had been written out of narratives on colonialism. If today’s historians could not rectify the injustice and cruelty of colonial rule, they could at least work toward ensuring that those who had been deprived of their rights to land and freedom would not be deprived of their proper place in the history books” (p. 5).
  11. 11. Gergor Muller - 2 • After the forced signature of the so-called Thomson Convention signature on 17th June 1884 put an end to “the existing land regime which had been in place, more or less unchanged, for a thousand years. (…) With the exception of Buddhist temples and royal real estate, all land in the Khmer Kingdom had overnight become French property and was now up for sale (p. 65). • Under the new regime, all the kingdom’s revenue – customs, taxes, revenue concessions – went to the French, leaving the King with an annual civil list of 300,000 piastres for the expenses of his household and the palace (187).
  12. 12. Srok Sraè • … not to speak about prey, about which we shall speak later. • As to the rice growing area, there usually is only one crop a year as irrigation is not much developed contrary to Cambodia’s two neighbours, Siam and Vietnam. • Besides, contrary to John Tully’s assertions, the Cambodian soil where rice is grow is usually quite poor (sols très pauvres, Delvert, 57), because of the nature of the soil, and perhaps to over-cultivation of the same crop over the centuries. Except for Battambang, Sisophon and some pockets of darker soil, the land tends to be too clayey (dey et) or too sandy (dey ksach) and there is a great lack of manure (compost) and fertilizer.
  13. 13. Srok Sraè - 2 • Khmer rice agriculture adapts itself to the soil, it does not control it and, until now, it has not enriched it. • Ploughing is extended over a long period of time as the farmers prefer to plant out after the small dry season of July-August. In all 60 to 70 days of work are required per year for one hectare of land. For an average farm of 2 hectares, it means, the rice farmer was occupied between 120 and 140 days a year.
  14. 14. Srok Sraè - 3 • Those years of Protectorate 1897 to 1939 did not see much in the growth of agricultural yields. One of the main reasons was that irrigation public works in Cambodia during that period – and contrary to Vietnam and the Mekong delta in particular – were almost non-existent. • One can only mention a dam in Bavel, Battambang, that could theoretically irrigate 30,000 hectares, Chhoeung Prey (Kompong Cham), a canal at Koki Thom (Prey veng) and the Prey Nup dam to stop salt water to flood the coastal plain. The latter had been renovated by French aid and is now in full operation again to the great benefit of the local population. • Most of the rice had – and still has today – to depend on the very irregular rainfalls, with one dry year on average every 5 years. Significant changes recently, particularly in Takeo.
  15. 15. Srok Sraè - 4 • As a result of all that, the yields were (and still are today, although there has been some improvements lately) the lowest in Indochina. Alain Forest (Le Cambodge & la Colonisation française, p. 289) gives us the average figure for the years 1919-1922: 1.100 kg per hectare. • And it has remained so till the Democratic Kampuchea period, when Angkar wanted to treble the yield to 3 tons per hectare. • At the same period (1919-1922), it was 1.350 in Cochinchina and 1.400 in Tonkin. Cambodia produced then about 450,000 to 500,000 tons a year from which from 1/3 to ¼ was exported, which was a high proportion. In all, Indochina then produced about 7,000,000 tons of rice and exported 1,800,000 tons.
  16. 16. Chamkar - 2 • Farmer would grow maize (with a fair proportion for export), tobacco, cotton, fruit trees, sesame, various kinds of beans, mulberry trees for silkworms, sugar cane, banana trees, papayas, all sorts of vegetables, including mushrooms • A couple of oxen could be fattened before being sold to the Cham butcher. Along the Sangkaè or Pursat rivers there were orange orchards that were watered during the dry season by creaking bamboo norias (bucket waterwheels).
  17. 17. Chamkar - 3 • In the Kampot province and the south of Takeo, the beginning of the 20th Century saw a boom in pepper plantation to 2 million stems in 1905. • In the region of Kompong Trach, pepper had been introduced in about 1840 by Chinese planters. But the French market was soon saturated and the export businesses in Saigon paid a very low price to the producers when exported to other markets, mainly Singapore and Bangkok.
  18. 18. Chamkar - 4 • At the beginning of the 20th Century, Cambodian cotton was regarded as being of very high quality in the international markets. It was produced essentially in Kratie and Kompong Cham provinces, in the districts of Tbong Khmum and Stung Trang, Ksach Kandal, Srey Santhor, Kompong Siem. And also in Lovea Em district of Prey Veng province. • It was sown immediately when the water level fell, bloomed in February and was collected between March and May. In 1913, out of the 5,905 tons that were collected, 5,586 tons were exported to Japan through Hong Kong. A podding (shelling) plant was constructed in Ksach Kandal that treated about half of the Cambodian cotton. But France practically never bought any Cambodian cotton and preferred to buy cheap Indian cotton. For commercial reasons, the production stagnated. • Silk
  19. 19. Cattle • Cambodia was by far the largest producer of cattle at the time. Oxen and buffaloes were of great value to peasants as they are used in agriculture. Their cost was high – about 50 piastres, corresponding to 100 to 150 days’ work. In 1922, (Forest, 293), there were 827,000 oxen and cows, 553,000 buffaloes, 600,000 pigs, 40,000 horses. In comparison, there were 410,000 bovidae (oxen, cows and buffaloes) in Cochinchina, 390,000 pigs and 13,000 horses. In 1955, just after the colonial period, there were 921,000 oxen and cows, but only 279, 000 buffaloes. • Those were mainly exported to Cochinchina or to the Philippines. But the trade was most irregular. In the best years, (1908-1911 & 1919-1921), Cambodia exported 15 to 40,000 heads of cattle. Towards Cochinchina it was about 10 to 20,000 heard a year. Exporting meat should have been one of the main sources of income of Cambodia. But markets were never diversified and only occasionally were some exported to Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong.
  20. 20. The economics of Rubber – Caoutchouc - 1 A pure product of colonization was the introduction of rubber plantation (hévéa) from 1921 by French companies. First and main “imperialistcapitalist exploitation” of the protected country. Economic colonisation to enrich the metropolis. “Commodification” of land “which is a Marxist term for things being assigned economic value which they (according to Marxist) did not previously possess, by their being produced and presented for sale, as opposed to personal use”. The demand of the market of natural rubber was connected of course with the boom in car production in the West. Exogenous character of the industry. Commercial crop – not subsistence farming.
  21. 21. What was there before rubber ? - 2 • Plantations were established on the rich, well-structured ferrallitiques, volcanic, basaltic soil of eastern Cambodia – the richest soils in the world, an agronomist told me. • Before, those areas, rising above the flooded plain, were covered with thick hygrophilous or degraded forests of thick bush & bamboo. “One finds trees 50m tall, with a diameter of 5-6 m. at the base” (Sl., 57) • Except for Mimot and Snuol areas, where swidden (slash and burn) agriculture was practiced by ethnic minorities, comparatively few Khmers were therefore expropriated to make room for the plantations. Still not terra nullius, as some ignorant people (including myself) believed. “Moïs, Stiengs, Thiams & primitive Cambodians … pratctising swidden agriculture” (Boucheret, 140). Cost of land, cheap.
  22. 22. The geography of the plantations - 3 • Those were established essentially in Kompong Cham province (Chamcar Loeu, Stung Trang, Chup, Krek & Mimot) and Kratie (Snoul). • Sources (Slocomb, Aso) claim there were plantations in Kompong Thom – there were none, only in neighbouring Chamkar Lœu. As to Boucheret she saw rubber plantations in Saoirieng, Takeo (142) and “the famous red soil” of Mondolkiri” (140) – there were none in those provinces. Say little or nothing about soil. • By the end of the colonial period 75,603 hectares had been planted from Chamkar Andoung in Chamkar Lœu, and not in Kg. Thom to Snuol in Kratieh province from West to East – along a line of 200 to 250 km.
  23. 23. The economy of rubber - 4 • Clearing: Stieng, Cambodians & Cham; tapping: Tonkinese. 7 to 8 years before tapping. • The French, thanks to hybridizing planted the rubber trees best adapted to the soil and the climate. 625 trees per hectare used to be planted, 2 meters from one another, with rows 8 meters apart that enabled lorries to move between the trees. • The maintenance was minimal, except protecting the forest from fires. Trees were bled almost the year round, except towards the end of the dry season when they are given a rest. This every 3 or 4 days, which means about 95 times a year. • By 1970, before the wars and revolutions, Cambodia obtained the highest yields in the world: 2.5 tons a year at Mimot, for instance.
  24. 24. Economy - 2 • Average size: 550 ha. Up to over 10,000-14000 ha, like Chup. Was said, in the sixties to be the largest in the world, and Mimot, 9.500 ha., with the highest yield. 700-800 kg rubber/an ha. per year. • 73.603 ha in all in 1930s (Slocomb, 51) • Conditions for concessions or up to 2,000, 5,000, 6,000 ha in 19 September kret (arrêté) 1926 : cahier des charges, a price per ha (?); • For hévéa, the concessionaire was required to commence work within a year and plant ¼ of area within 5 years, ½ within 10 years, … or land would return to the domain (Slocomb, 28). • Conditions for protection of nearby forest, traditional rights of inhabitants, compensation for same size of land if evicted, grazing animals, fishing, firewood, buildings for workers, approved hygiene … 2% tax on gross product.
  25. 25. Economy - 3 • « A source of considerable profit » Boucheret, 142), all the more so since the Protectorate helped the companies during the Great depression, 1929-33 and were able to repay their debts by 1935 (ibid. 146). • Low salaries: 10 hour day, $0,40 for men & 0.30 for women. $12 per month. Rest day and festivals not paid. when one coolie collected 3 kg per day, sold 63fr to 26fr a kilo. Cost of bringing a coolie from Haiphong: $80. Overseer:$55 a month • Concludes with exogenous character of the industry: capital, management, workforce and export.
  26. 26. Social conditions -5 • Originally, the “more reliable” workforce was recruited from Tonkin through three-year contracts: « indentured coolies », « bonded labour »; in the 1930, an average of 10,000 coolies arrived in Cambodia. Continuous movement back & forth across the border. Lack of work force in C.: in 1937, population density in C. of 17/square km. • Mimot plantation: almost constant conflicts; peaked in 1926. Desenlis, the Résident of Kg. Cham wrote to Baudoin, Res. Sup. That the Société Indochinoise des Plantations de Mimot wants to clear 5,000 ha. And will enter in conflict with the Stieng population. “I am going to write immediately to d’Ursel, telling him to respects absolutely all natives’ chamkar and not touch them under any pretext.” (Slocomb, 41). 3,168 inhabitants, cultivating 700 ha. of upland rice, mainly Stieng. Desenlis wanted 6 reserves for the Stieng “which are absolutely their own” and the rest of the area should be sold by the Administration for development by others.
  27. 27. Social conditions -5 - 1 • November 1927, d’Ursel complied with the Rés Sup.’s order. Desenlis went to Mimot, spending most of the month there & visited the villages of the Stieng, in the company of the Governor of Tbong Khmum, and chauvaikhand of Mimot. Considerable opposition from the people: compromise: 5 concessions on the red lands of Mimot and 6 reserves for indigenous inhabitants. Could choose the land to clear and given 2 years before leaving old land. Would given them twice the area needed, not 4 times for a four-year-rotation of crops. Would receive fertilizer in compensation, plus $12 per ha.
  28. 28. Politics: communism & nationalism – 8 World War II • Aso, Boucheret & Slocomb read too much in the political agitation of the 1930s and confuse Cambodia & Vietnam, Indochina & Cambodia. Most of their analyses are quite irrelevant and are making Pol Pot’s propaganda. • During the Vichy regime the crêpe could not be all sent to Japan. “Indochinese plantations sat idle” (135) • From 1936, the C. nationalist movement was restricted to the literate elite in the Khmer administration around Nagarawatta, the Buddhist Institute and the Association of ex-Sisowath students. Totally ignored by the illiterate ‘coolies’ and
  29. 29. Some confusion • … is reached by Mitch Aso: “When WW II ended [in September 1945] , rubber plantations faced other formidable challenges. These problems included the reversion of plantation land to forests, the destruction & loss of equipment, a most importantly the dispersal of labour forces. Yet, by 1946, production in and even exceeded pre-war levels.” (Siksācakr, p. 136). How could all this happen within 1 year ? • By then, 4 independence movements: 1, communist Khmer-Vietminh in the East; 2, Thai Issaraks in the West; 3, Liberal Democrats in towns; and, later, 4, Sihanouk’s ‘Royal crusade for Independence’
  30. 30. After independence: post-1953 - 9 • After independence more and more Khmers were employed while the Vietnamese returned home. Still, by 1970, at least 20,000 people, or about one third of the workers were of Vietnamese origin. This explains why, in the course of the second Indochinese War, the Vietminh could easily find sympathizers & and take refuge in those plantations that protected them from enemy aircrafts. • The French still in full control: 20 years. Jean Delvert: by 1970, 50,000 ha yielding 50,000 tons of high quality rubber. Highest yields in the world at Mimot: 2.5 t./ha.. 280 ha of coffee plant in Pailin: George Bonzon • No mention of the Takhmau rubber tyre factory • 1966: invitation to Mimot. Vegetables, dairy farm… • 1966, Labansiek in Ratankiri, now Banlung. Herbaceous cover between curving rows of young trees to create a mulch.
  31. 31. Fishing Fish is the second most important source of income for the Cambodian farmers. The fishing season September to June. On the Mekong, December to April. Most of the fishing was on a family basis, but large fishing lots were leased on the Tonle Sap lake from 1908 by the French colonial authorities and the flooded areas along the Mekong. Those leases would constitute a significant income for the Cambodian budget: 1920, $640,000 out of a $6,079,000 budget. Before the French interference, the largest companies operated on the Tonle Sap and were a monopoly of the Chinese businessmen who had close relations with the palace. The French put an end to this monopoly after the death of King Norodom to give the proceeds to the national budget. In Also Vietnamese businessmen, who hired Cambodian or Vietnamese coolies who were paid only 8-10 piastres a month, could also buy lots. 1911, Tonle Chhmar on Stœung Sen, Kg. Thom. First C. cooperative ?
  32. 32. Forestry • The forest covered more than half of the territory. For instance, in 1920, Cambodia exported 87,000 tons of timber towards Cochinchina and this was the second heaviest export after rice. In the course of the years 1913-1920, tax on timber represented 9% of the budget which was much. That was the highest percentage in the Indochinese territories. • Most of these forests were inaccessible and therefore exploited only at the periphery. The Protectorate established, as in France, the Administration of Eaux et Forêts. But the service had neither the personnel nor the equipment to do much more than administer the regions situated close to the means of communication that is mainly the Mekong valley where rigorous regulations were put in place to protect the exploitation of the forest. Concessions could not be given for more than 3 years.
  33. 33. Has Cambodian agriculture benefitted from French colonisation ? • Yes and no. Jean Delvert wrote that he Protectorate has not done much for the Khmer farmers in general. But he added that it has brought two essential benefits, first peace and secondly an administration that has run quite smoothly. And I would add the rubber plantations. • Before 1863, the country had been bled white by incessant wars, invasions and rebellions – not to mention the rapacity (cupidity, predatoriness, voracity) of its leaders. And a greatly expanded population. • This can be shown, for instance, through the population growth from 750,000 in 1853 to 4.5 million in 1953, thank to the new political and economic stability. Still, "the cadastral system was embryonic when the French left. Land titles, then as now, existed to protect and benefit the rich, and it is unlikely that a common rice farmer possessed any proof of ownership of the land ha worked. Chronic indebtedness to the local moneylender was still the rule rather than the exception, despite some small attempts by the State to provide agricultural credit. Rural living standards changed very little.”
  34. 34. Handicrafts • As most farmers in colonial Cambodia practiced mostly subsistence agriculture, and trade was limited, households made most objects they needed for everyday life: ploughs, carts, tools, basketwork, sampans, fishing tackle, clothes, mats, even constructing their own houses or huts, etc. … Handicrafts were very developed not only in the countryside but in towns as well. Spoan (bronze) and silver-smithing around Udong. • Weaving cotton and silk material for karmas, sampots and sarongs was common throughout the country with locally produced cotton and silk, particularly along the banks of the Mekong. The import of cheap cloth tended to compete with that cottage industry from the time of the First World War.
  35. 35. Industry • There was none when the French arrived and practically none when they left – unlike in neighbouring Vietnam. That did not worry France since, according to colonial norms, the colonies were to supply the metropolis with primary products (from agriculture and mines) and just supply a market for the mass industrially products of the metropolis. Unfortunately for France, apart from the King himself and some of his courtiers, the Khmers could ill afford the sophisticated productions of the industrialized world. Industry was to be in Tonkin. • Distilleries, rice-mills in Cholon, shipbuilding from WW I, coachbuilders’ workshops for lorries (trucks) and coaches (buses) were built from bodies imported from France.
  36. 36. Trade • Cambodia exported essentially its surplus from agriculture, the forest, and, from the1930s, its rubber. But the entire foreign trade went through Chinese companies in Cholon and a few French companies in Saigon. It is therefore impossible to give statistics for exports and imports, as there was a customs union between the 4 protectorates and the 1 colony of the Indochinese Union that counted as one country. • It meant the import or export duties went directly to the Indochinese budget and to Hanoi and Cambodia only received a fraction of it. All through the existence of Indochina, poor Cambodia was subsidizing its richer and more powerful neighbour.
  37. 37. Transport • River navigation was the main means of transport and, in early colonial days, there were many rowing boats and sailing junks on the Mekong and the Tonle Sap. Some sailing boats or motor boats could tow rafts or timber floats down to Cochinchina and Saigon. From June to November, high sea vessels could sail up to Phnom Penh and larger ships of the Compagnie Saigonnaise de Transport & Navigation could sail up the Great Lake to Siemreap and Bacprea to load rice from Battambang. • In the Gulf of Thailand, the maritime transport was made by Chinese sailing junks. A Danish ship, the Bhanuraingsi, connected each week Bangkok and Saigon via Kone, KampotKep to load essentially sea food. • Before the Protectorate, outside the ancient Angkorean roadways and the so-called royal road built by Ang Duong between Udong and Kampot, there were an infinite number of tracks that were more or less flooded during the rainy season. The means of transport of the time were ox-carts or horse-carts and elephants.
  38. 38. • IMG_2299.JPG
  39. 39. Roads & Railways • To link Phnom Penh and the various provinces, network of high embankments that were metalled (with stones & gravel) to make them suitable for car in the 1920s. Then the most important rubber plantations in Kompong Cham were connected to Saigon via Tay Ninh. Chup & Mimot were directly connected to Saigon. Road to Poipet on the Siamese border. Similarly, Stung Treng was connected to Lower Laos. • As the railways, Paul Doumer conceived the project for a railway from Saigon-Phnom Penh-Siam as early as 1897. In 1911, Hanoi wanted to build the Phnom Penh Saigon line, but the French National Assembly refused to vote the budget for it. It was not until the year 1930 that the line Phnom Penh-Battambang and then Monkol Borey was built. The Phnom Penh-Saigon line was dropped. The line will be extended by the Japanese army in 1945, in order to be linked to the Thai railway system for military purposes in their Pacific War.
  40. 40. The Media During Sisowath’s reign, all provincial capitals were linked by telegraphic lines to the capital. Mail was sent by steam boats or by commercial buses. Postmen also used bicycles to distribute the mail several times a week. The main provinces were connected by telephone. The press did not exist in Cambodia before the publication in 1936 of Nagaravatta, the first weekly in Khmer language. Before, there were a couple of newspapers from Saigon that were brought by the postal or commercial buses at midday. . The first radio sets appeared in 1937. But one could hear only Siamese news and music and from other foreign countries. Later Radio-Saigon was to be heard in French and Annamite. Later, during the Second World War, a Khmer language programme was created
  41. 41. In 1901, the piastre was equivalent to 2.50 French francs. Usually represented by $
  42. 42. Conclusion : Margaret Colm • Colonialism was, of course, abhorrent. It trampled on the historical paths of militarily weaker states, exploited their natural resources and subjected their populations to harsh …Western capitalism. • On the other hand, the peoples of the states that made up this French construct [Indochina] were the beneficiaries of the policies and practices of some truly visionary and humane governors-general, especially Varenne and Pasquier, and in Cambodia, even at the provincial level there were residents like Desenlis who toiled tirelessly to bring justice to the small people, especially the Tonkinese coolies who laboured on the rubber plantations of Kompong Cham. Centuries of occupation by Siam and Vietnam had left little trace; the 90 years of the French Protectorate, on the other hand, would change Cambodia irreversibly. (45).
  43. 43. Epilogue: the fate of Résident Bardez ? • In 1925, « angry villagers had beaten to death and then cooked and eaten the liver of the Résident of neighbouring Kompong Chhnang Porovince when he had attempted to collect unpaid dues. » (Slocomb, p. 137) • Ref. : For details, see Chandler, Facing the Cambodian Past (Chiangmai: Silkworm, 1996) 139-58.
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