A Change of Guard

សូមស្តាប់វិទ្យុសង្គ្រោះជាតិ Please read more Khmer news and listen to CNRP Radio at National Rescue Party. សូមស្តាប់វីទ្យុខ្មែរប៉ុស្តិ៍/Khmer Post Radio.
Follow Khmerization on Facebook/តាមដានខ្មែរូបនីយកម្មតាម Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/khmerization.khmerican

Sunday 23 November 2008

The Aphaiwong Family: The Lords of Battambang

Khuang Aphaiwong.

By Khmerization
23rd November, 2008

It is a pride to all Cambodians that we have a Khmer who ruled Thailand as the prime minister and he was Khuang Aphaiwong, the man who became the prime minister of Thailand three times from 1944-1948. The following is a brief history of his family lineage. Please have a read:
The Aphaiwong family has ruled Battambang province for over one hundred years from 1795-1907. The first member of the Aphaiwongs to rule Battambang was Chaufa Ben (Lord Ben), a native of Takeo province, who was a powerful military commander under the reign of King Ang Eng. In 1795, with the aid of the Thai army with Chau Ponhea (Chao Phraya in Thai) Bodin as a commander, Chaufa Ben declared himself the Lord Governor of Battambang and swore allegiance to the Thai kings. He pays homage to the Thai kings and since then Battambang was put under the suzerainty of Siam. As a reward, he was accorded the title of “Chau Ponhea Apheithipess” which in Thai it is called “Chao Phraya Aphaithebet” or “Aphai”. This title was later adopted as a family name of Ben’s descendants of Aphaiwong, when his descendants moved to live in Thailand, after Battambang was returned to Cambodia in 1907.

When Chau Ponhea Apheitipess Ben died in 1809, his son, Pen, ascended the Lordship of Battambang with the same title of Chau Ponhea Apheitipess. Chau Ponhea Pen ruled Battambang for only seven years and died at a young age and was then succeeded in 1816 by his son, Ros, who ruled Battambang for twenty years. When he died in 1835, Chau Ponhea Ros was succeeded by his son, Nong. There was no record of how long Chau Ponhea Nong ruled Battambang, but there was a record which shows that in 1856 he had ordered his official to buy a Tripitaka scripture from Siam to give to Wat Po Veal temple. When Apheitipess Nong died he was succeeded by his son, Year called Nhonh.

Lord Chhum, The Last Lord Governor of Battambang

Chau Ponhea Nhonh was very close with Chau Ponhea Bodin, the Thai military commander for Battambang. As such, he married his eldest daughter, Neak Mchas (Lady) Klip, to Bodin’s son named Em Singhaseni. When Ponhea Nhon became old, Mrs. Klip took charge of the provincial affairs. The Thai king was so impressed of her managerial skills and so was preparing to appoint her husband, Em Singhaseni, to succeed Ponhea Nhonh. Chhum, the only son of Ponhea Nhonh, knew of the plan and became jealous and had Em Singhaseni assassinated. And when Ponhea Nhonh died in 1895, Chhum succeeded Ponhea Nhonh as the Lord Governor of Battambang. Chhum ruled Battambang for only 12 years when it was returned back to the control of Cambodia. He and most of his relatives, numbers in the thousands, moved to live in Prachinburi province in Thailand. He was, effectively, the last governor of Battambang.

According to eyewitnesses, when Lord Chhum moved to live in Thailand, he brought with him about 100 cartloads of gold and assets, taxed from Khmer farmers in Battambang.

Khuang Aphaiwong, A Khmer becoming the Prime Minister of Thailand

Lord Chhum, the last governor of Battambang, had more than 40 wives. Among the 40 wives, he had one Thai wife named Rord who bore him a son named Khuang who took the surname of Aphaiwong when his family moved to live in Thailand after Battambang was returned to Cambodia in 1907.

Khuang Aphaiwong was born in Battambang on May 17, 1902 and died on March 15, 1968 in Bangkok, Thailand. He served three times as the prime minister of Thailand.

He attended the Debsirin school and the Assumption College in Bangkok, and studied engineering at the Ecole Centrale de Lyon in France. After his return to Thailand, he worked in the telegraph department, finally becoming the director of the department.

Khuang was one of the most important leaders of the 1932 coup that reformed the Thai monarchy from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy.

Khuang received the title as a major, when he joined the guard of King Rama VII, King Prajadipok, in World War II. The Thai king also bestowed upon him the title of Luang Kovit Aphaiwong. He had served as a minister of subsequent Thai governments before elected as prime minister on August 1, 1944. On August 17, 1945, after public pressures, he resigned to make way for a new administration.

In 1946 he was one of the founders of the Democrat Party, and became its first leader. His Democrat Party won the fourth national elections on January 6, 1946, which gained him a second term as prime minister starting on January 31. Only 45 days later, on March 24, his government was censured by a motion in the parliament and he resigned.

On November 10, 1947, he became prime minister a third time following a coup d'état led by Phin Chunhawan. However, the coup leaders were not pleased with the performance of Khuang's government and forced him to resign on April 8, 1948.

The Aphaiwongs: The ancestors of Khmer-Thai royal families

The Khmer-Thai royal family lineage was established when Lady Yem (Khun Chom Yem Bossaba Yem (?-1944)), one of the daughters of Nhonh Aphaiwong, the 5th Lord Governor of Battambang, became the 20th wife of King Norodom (1834-1904) of Cambodia. King Norodom and Lady Yem Bossaba (5) produced two children and one of them was Prince Sutharot (1872-1945) who was Sihanouk’s grandfather. Prince Sutharot married Lady Phangangam (1874-1944) and produced King Suramarit (1896-1960), who was King Sihanouk’s father. According to some sources, Lady Phangangam was a Thai commoner.

One of the Aphaiwongs' granddaughters, Lady Suvadhana, became the Queen Consort of Thai King Vajiravudh (RamaVI). King Vajiravuddh and Queen Consort Suvadhana produced a daughter named Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda. Because former Cambodian King Sihanouk was a great-grandson of King Norodom and a great-great-grandson of Nhonh Aphaiwong, he is a cousin of Thai Princess Bejaratana , who was also a great-great-granddaughter of Nhonh Aphaiwong.

The Aphaiwong Legacy

The Aphaiwongs had ruled well and, at times, misruled Battambang, depending on who you talked to. The Aphaiwong family was both loved and hated by many Battambang natives due to their feudal and oppressive rules. Many people who benefited from their rules loved them and cried when the family moved to Thailand, after Battambang was returned to Cambodian control. Many of these people followed the Aphaiwongs to Thailand but were abandoned by them. Most became destitute and decided to move back to Battambang. Others, those who were oppressed by their oppressive rules, were overjoyed of their departures.//
1. Tauch Chhuong, Battambang During The Time Of The Lord Governor
2. Wikipedia, Khuang Aphaiwong.
3. Brittanica, Khuang Aphaiwong.


Anonymous said...

The Aphaiwong ruled and put Battambang under Thai control for over 100 years because they served the Thais and oppressed the Khmers. Without the French, Battambang would still be under Thai control until today. Can anyone answer why Khmers like to oppress their own Khmer people?

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this priceless article.

Anonymous said...

Because the Master, Siam or Vietnam, supported, protected, or protect their PUPPET MONKEY, Aphaivong family or Hun Sen, Akak Moha Ach kor to RULE over Khmer Heads for the interests of Thai or Vietnam.

Sithan Hin

The Translater of Lord Governor of Battambang, and a colleague of Tauch Chhuong

Khmerization said...

Lok Sokhoeun and Lok Sithan,

Thanks for your comments. your contributions are great. Lok Sithan, you have done a great job for the translation. The book is very valuable, though some of the facts need to be treated very carefully when quoting. Thanks for both of you.

Anonymous said...

Very impressive post and hope to read more!
To me I found nothing good this family did for Cambodia.

Anonymous said...

it is sad to see this family legacy felt so ashamed of khmer as to served their thai masters. they made blood of khmers so shameful and worst than the supposedly greedy thais. nothing to be proud of but served as a reminder of how we khmer must aware of our deep rooted sick mentality when we have power and how we easily betray our khmer nation.

Anonymous said...

"Battambang during the time of the Lord Governor" is a wonderful book. Truly a treasure. I was finally able to get my own english translation of the book and I look forward to using it as a reference on my next visit to Battambang.

I'm an American who has spent about 6 months in Battambang over the past 12 years staying with my friends family near the river. The places described are so familiar to me as I often walk and bike throughout the surrounding countryside. This book is just fascinating.

Thanks so much to all who are preserving the history of my dear Battambang.

Anonymous said...

Major Luang Khuang Abhaiwongse was born in Phratabong in 1902 and at that time Phratabong belongs to Siam there for make him Thai not Khmer.

Anonymous said...

September 2009 12:31 PM, Khuang's ancestors were Khmers. They ruled Battambang before Siam annexed it in 1795. His father, Chhum, was a Khmer, therefore he is a Khmer or half-Khmer because his mother was said to be a Thai woman.

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting article and subsequent discussion.

I would say that what is illustrated here is how Thai and Cambodian and possibly most other South East Asian societies influenced by Hindu culture differ so little.

Power is controlled by elites. Those elites have power because their supporters give it to them. In return those supporters expect 'favors'. Therefore, to achieve power, wealth and comparative success means using your power to aid the dominant power whether it be Thailand, the US, Vietnam or the Khmer Rouge, and in turn those powers repay the loyalty in terms of power.

It is, therefore, perfectly natural for people in these societies to align themselves with 'foreign' elites in order to achieve or retain power in their home province / country.

National identities may be used to influence supporters but ultimately the power structures in these societies exist as a two-way street of power between the 'leaders' and the elites each satisfying the others desires for power and wealth.

National identities and even boundaries are subservient to such desires and will be used and overlooked with equal measure as the situation demands.

A politics that can be described as mercantile, pragmatic and opportunistic.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... let see, according to this blog, his ancestors didn’t want to be Khmer and his father was the fifth generations Thai and his mother was Thai, he lived in Thailand and went to schools in Thailand so that makes him Khmer, uh…huh!?! “Khuang Aphaiwong, A Khmer becoming the Prime Minister of Thailand”

Anonymous said...

The fact that Khuang's ancestors didn't want to be Khmers is not relevant. If you are born a Khmer, you have Khmer ancestry and Khmer blood, you are a Khmer.

Khuang and his ancestors were Khmers, born and raised in Khmer or former Khmer territory, therefore they are Khmers and the fact that they didn't want to be Khmers won't make them Thais either because they have Khmer ancestry and Khmer blood.

Khuang's father, Lord Chhum, was a Khmer but a Khmer traitor who served foreigners, the Thais.

Anonymous said...

It's not because you are Khmer, and you have to serve Khmer government only. khmer can serve both the American and Khmer governments. Khmer men have served other countries in the interest of Khmer people. Our Khmer historian had left out some parts in the Aphaiwongs history. It was the Aphaiwongs family and the Siam army that fought the vietcong/vietmin,won, and installed the Norodom family in Cambodia. Please do not believe in the lies that they put forth. Please read your history from other sources and do not put blame on other races. It's you own.

Anonymous said...

Please make comparision between these leader of Cambodia
1. Aphaiwongs
2. Pol pot
3. Norodom
4. Hun Sen
who's the worst?

Anonymous said...

Some of you say the Aphaiwongs served the wrong master. Don't you guys know. Anyone of you that live in America,Australia, Canada that have sons and daughters that served/serving in the military can be called traitor according to these "bozo"? If your sons and daughters that serve/serving these foriegn natitons that you are living in, were ordered to invade Cambodia, and they follow their order. Would you called the traitor, too? Please..Please Please Pretty Please answer me. thanx and godbless

Anonymous said...

***For you information people***
All of the Aphaiwongs that are living in Cambodia, Thailand, France,America,etc not just happy to be Khmer but they are PROUD TO BE KHMER. Let me say it again: "I am proud to be a Khmer"