A Change of Guard

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Saturday 29 December 2007

A Biograhy of Prince Norodom Chantaraingsey- part two (B).

This is the second of a four-part series of a biography of Prince Norodom Chantaraingsey. This biography was compiled by Mr. Hass Savoeun, a member of the Buddhist Khmer Center in the USA (http://www.ibuddhi.org/about.php) and was republished in the website of the Khmer Center in Switzerland, adding the front page picture by Lok Ly Diep of Angkor Borei News in the USA. The biography is translated from Khmer to English by Khmerization.
Previously I cited Mr. Hass Savoeun as a member of Khmer Center in Switzerland. He is in fact a member of the Buddhist Khmer Center in the USA. I wish to thank Lok Perom Uch for bringing to my attention about my erroneous citations. I thank him for his correction and wish to apologise to all concerned for my errors.
Continued from part A....
5. The Power Struggle and the Territory Expansion of the Committee of the Khmer National Salvation
In order to expand their territories the Committee had divided the movement and their military wings into small autonomous groups and sent them out to liberate more territories from south up to north of the country. This approach reflected Dap Chhuon’s cautious policy. Fearing that his powerful position can be taken over any time by his other more educated colleagues he devised a plan to kick them out of his group. After the attack on Siem Reap he sent all those who were more competent and able than him to work far away from him. And as a result those whom he virtually kicked out decided not to rejoin the Committee and formed their own splintered groups in the new territories.

A. The Committee for the Khmer National Salvation Chapter Two.
Due to Dap Chhuon’s paranoid actions, immediately after the attack on Siem Reap, another group had retreated to set up their base at Puok district and formed “ the Committee for the Khmer National Salvation Chapter Two” there. This group was led by Achar Tum which was under the indirect control of Leav Keo Moni but still maintained a relationship Dap Chhuon’s group and also with the arms supply group in Bangkok as well.

B. The Committee for the Khmer National Salvation Chapter Three.
Another group that the Committee for the Khmer National Salvation Chapter One sent to expand the territory in Battambang had decided to create the “Committee for the Khmer National Salvation Chapter Three” and based themselves at Banon in Battambang and was led by Ouch Nilpich as the leader and Ta Lay Jayamongkol as his deputy who based his group at Prek Trop, along the Tonle Sap Lake.

C. The Committee for the Khmer National Salvation Chapter Three.
Another group with about 30 fighters under the leadership of Prince Chantaraingsey was sent by Dap Chhuon to Tbaung Khmum (Kampong Cham) to carry out sabotage against the enemy’s economy by destroying rubber plantations there. This group included other such important leaders as Hem Savang, Him Khan, Chan Tor Tress and Sok Seng Roeung Mony. This group had travelled through provinces which located along the Tonle Sap Lake by crossing the Lake between Kampong Chnang and Kampong Luong-Ponhea Leu district but due to heavy and active patrols by the French troops the Prince decided not to cross the Lake from the east. The Prince then decided to lead his troops back to the foot of the Dangrek Mountain Ranges and then led his troops detour to Ormlaing, Roleak Cheung, Kantel Reussey Chum and Veal Veng near the border with Trat province of Thailand.
After establishing and strengthening his power base there the Prince declared the formation of the “Committee for the Khmer National Salvation Chapter Four” at around the end of 1949. This group’s logo was a red flag with the yellow picture of a three-towered Angkor Wat in the middle, exactly the same as the flag of the Committee for the Khmer National Salvation Chapter One as well. Due to Prince Chantaraingsey having a political leaning toward the republican regime and due to his dislike of the monarchy, the top end and the bottom end of the picture of Angkor Wat did not have the blue stripes in the middle.
Since he set up his base at Ormlaing he had military successes one after the other and his name and reputation had become increasingly well known. Due to the help from a group led by a man called Seap, the Prince was able to expand his territory in the south to the future National Route four, adjoining with the territory of the Committee for the Khmer National Salvation Chapter Five. On the western side his territory expanded to Sre Ambel and Koh Kong province. On the northern side it expanded to Veal Veng and Leach which was bordering with Pursat province. On the eastern side it expanded to Kampong Chnang, which nearly the whole of this province was controlled by Puth Chhay which he expanded south to Thmat Pong Mountain where he based himself there. The zones under the control of Prince Chantaraingsey was administered with a government-like structure, following the political system of a republican regime.
The creation of a republic-type administrative structure had angered many prominent people in the group. And this caused rivalry among many leaders in each group to try to influence the Committee which led some to plan a party coup d’etat.
Prince Chantaraingsey had also led an attack on Siem Reap on the 7th August 1946 and after that he led his troops to set up a base at Ormlaing where he established his name and reputation as a competent leader.

E. The Committee for the Khmer National Salvation Chapter Five.
This is a group with hundreds of followers which was led by Leav Keo Moni and Kao Tak. After Dap Chhuon had re-integrated with the government this group appointed a military officer named Hiv Thinh, who was a military officer of the First Batch, who had set up his base at Phnom Srong, as their military commander. Later Hiv Thinh was murdered by Puth Chhay, who was an Issarak leader from another group. So another Issarak military commander named Savang Vong, who was also a military officer of the First Batch, took over the position of the commander of the military wing of the “Committee for the Khmer National Salvation Chapter Five”. We knew how big the territory was controlled by this group. But on the southern and the northern sides of this group’s territory it was under the control of Son Ngoc Thanh’s group…//(To be continued in parts 3 and 4). To read part three click here.

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