Archives consist of articles that originally appeared in Collier's Year Book (for events of 1997 and earlier) or as monthly updates in Encarta Yearbook (for events of 1998 and later). Because they were published shortly after events occurred, they reflect the information available at that time. Cross references refer to Archive articles of the same year.
Politics and Government.
Prince Norodom Sihanouk chose to be designated as Head of State, rather than king, following the death on April 3 of his father, King Norodom Suramarit. King Suramarit, who began his public career in the administrative service in 1918, ascended to the throne in 1955 when his only son, Norodom Sihanouk, abdicated in order to assume the position of premier. Sihanouk's abdication in 1955 was reportedly based upon his belief that Cambodian royalty would not survive if it stood apart from the inevitable political changes brought about by independence. This determination to play an active role in Cambodian political life apparently explains Sihanouk's preference in 1960 for the title of head of state.
Pho Proeung was designated to succeed Sihanouk as premier, and a revised cabinet, headed by the new premier, was given a vote of confidence by the National Assembly on April 18. Tep Phan, the Governor of Phnom Penh, replaced Son Sann as deputy premier and foreign minister in the new cabinet. Prince Sihanouk, who is also president of the Sangkum Reastr Nigum (Popular Socialist Community), ordered a national referendum to be held on June 5 to determine whether the population favored his leadership over that of the Communists or of the exiled Son Ngoc Thanh, the head of the Khmer Serei (Free Khmer). Of the 2,199,731 voters on the rolls, the official tally (number voting, 2,020,741) gave Sihanouk 2,020,349 votes, Son Ngoc Thanh, 133, and the Communists, 133. On June 11, nation-wide demonstrations were held demanding that Sihanouk be named Head of State. The Council of Regency resigned on June 13, and Prince Sihanouk was sworn in as Head of State on June 20. For the moment, therefore, Cambodia had a monarchy without a king, but with a head of state who had sworn to respect the throne, which is symbolized by Her Majesty the Queen Mother.
While attending the meeting of the UN General Assembly in October, Prince Sihanouk sought unsuccessfully to convince the United Nations to guarantee the independence of both Cambodia and Laos. His proposal would have removed these two countries from the arena of the cold war and would have provided them protection from any threat of attack by their neighbors in Southeast Asia. In the past, Prince Sihanouk had argued that, so long as he could maintain a neutralist course, Cambodian independence would be guaranteed by the "competition" between East and West. He once said that "The interplay of American and Communist influence is really what makes Cambodian independence possible." Speaking at Kent State University in Ohio on Oct. 13, 1960, Prince Sihanouk said: "It is thought that SEATO (South-East Asia Treaty Organization) extends its protective umbrella over our country—although we have never asked for this protection because it could only provoke the hostility of the communist camp. . . . We have no common frontier with that powerful nation (China). . . . We have had very real frontier difficulties with our neighbors, Thailand and South Viet Nam, both of which are closely associated with the West." The Prince added that, in his opinion, "Nationalism is the only solid barrier against the communist ideology."
The principal economic event in Cambodia during 1960 was the opening of a new deep-sea port on the Gulf of Siam at Sihanoukville. The port, which is named for Prince Sihanouk, was built on the site of the fishing village of Kompong-Som, which lies 144 miles from Phnom-Penh, the capital city. It was constructed with French financial assistance, and is linked to the capital by a new highway built with United States aid. With the completion of the pier installations at Sihanoukville, Cambodia was provided with an outlet to the sea, which it can use as an alternative to Saigon, thus lessening its economic dependence on South Vietnam. The improvement of agricultural production is the chief goal of the country's five-year plan. This task involves the implementation of a program of constructing reservoirs, canals, and dams for rice fields, and a policy of encouraging reforestation and forest conservation.
In the past five years, Cambodia has been the recipient of some $300 million in American military, economic, and technical assistance. It has also received considerable aid from France, the Soviet Union, and Communist China.
Area and Population.
Area, 66,800 sq. mi. Pop. (est. 1956), 5,000,000. Phnom Penh (cap.), 500,000.
Prince Norodom Sihanouk rules as Head of State. Foreign Minister, Tep Phan.
Chief items of expenditure: defense, administration, education. Chief sources of revenue: customs duties, government monopolies, sales, and license taxes. Currency unit, riel = U.S. $0.03.
Principal crops: rice and rubber.
Major trading countries: France, United States, Malaya.
Public primary schools (1957), 1,032 with about 350,000 students. Religious primary schools, 1,400 with about 75,000 students. Private primary schools, 204 with 17,117 students.
Army, 35,000 men.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2002. © 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
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