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.
Early in 1961 Prince Norodom Sihanouk assumed the office of Prime Minister in addition to that of Head of State. This followed his announcement, on January 16, of the resignation of Prime Minister Pho Proeung's government, which had reportedly become involved in a financial scandal caused by the embezzlement of state funds amounting to some 80,000,000 riels. The Prime Minister's resignation was tendered without waiting for a possible vote of censure by the National Assembly. When the premiership was reportedly declined by all high-ranking personalities, Sihanouk accepted, on January 22, an invitation voted unanimously by the National Assembly that he take over the post in addition to his duties as Head of State.
Later, on August 14, he handed in his resignation to the National Assembly but withdrew it the next day. The Prince's resignation followed the appearance in the press of what was considered an offensive article by a prominent Cambodian diplomat. In October Prince Sihanouk explained his frequent resignations in the following words: "I frequently resign at the slightest controversy about my policy. This is to give our parliament and people the opportunity of choosing someone else to guide the country's policies, and to judge me, condemn me, or confirm their approval of my policy." He indicated that he especially regretted that his political behavior was often described in the American press as either "unstable" or "mercurial."
Prince Sihanouk bitterly denounced the Cambodian Communist Party during the summer. He accused Communist newspapermen of lying to the people and said that he would not have Communists teaching in Cambodian schools. The Sihanouk policy toward Communism is therefore a dual one. In domestic politics Communists are condemned as unpatriotic, while in foreign relations Communist countries are regarded with friendship.
Prince Sihanouk played an active role in the deliberations of both the Geneva conference on Laos in May and the meeting of the neutral nations at Belgrade in September. He was actually the first to propose the Geneva meeting, which he hoped would guarantee a belt of neutral nations, including, in addition to Laos and Cambodia, the neighboring states of Burma and Thailand. The inclusion of Thailand in the arrangement, he said, would provide the Communists with sufficient inducement to conclude a valid agreement.
Prince Sihanouk's concept of neutrality is one of friendship toward both the Western powers and the Soviet bloc, with the acceptance of aid from both sides. On the occasion of his trip to the United Nations meeting in September, the Prince expressed concern over what he termed a misrepresentation in the American press of the real meaning of Cambodian neutrality. He said, "I assure you that my policy is not that of a swinging pendulum, as you believe. My criticisms, now of the West, now of the East, are provoked purely and simply by the fact that my country and its regime are constantly, sometimes simultaneously and sometimes alternately the victims of plots, pressure and subversion from both Eastern and Western sources."
Traditional hostility between Cambodia and South Vietnam has until recently prohibited countermeasures against Communist guerrillas who operate in the jungle areas that connect the two countries. Cambodian authorities have denied that Communist bands have crossed into South Vietnam from camps based on Cambodian territory. However, the Cambodian government took measure of the situation in September and announced that its troops had attacked a contingent of 500 Vietnamese Communists in the Cambodian province of Svay Rieng and had forced them back across the border. The Cambodian army was said to have destroyed a Communist military camp of about 50 small houses and to have taken several prisoners, including a company commander. It was not made clear whether or not the Cambodian army would continue to pursue the Communist rebels vigilantly. However, Prince Sihanouk, speaking in Tokyo on October 7, went so far as to say, "I think it would be possible for the United States to interfere militarily in South Vietnam because North Vietnam is interfering in South Vietnam." Regarding the Laos dispute, he added, "But I advised my American friends not to send troops to Laos because you can be sure the Chinese would intervene too."
Relations between Cambodia and Thailand, traditional rivals in Southeast Asian history, were broken in October following a charge made by the Thai Premier, General Sarit Thanarat, that the Vietnamese Communists planned to use Cambodian territory as a springboard for attacks on Thailand and South Vietnam. The Thai Premier said that his government would take steps to "preserve the safety and honor of our nation." Prince Sihanouk termed the Thai statement "absolute slander" and replied that his country would "join the Socialist bloc" rather than be conquered by the Thais and the South Vietnamese.
Cambodia continued to be heavily dependent upon foreign assistance for the implementation of its plans for economic development and modernization. For the past six years the United States has been by far the principal source of military, economic, and technical assistance. However, following his foreign tour of December 1960, Prince Sihanouk announced significant increases in foreign aid to be received from Communist countries. The Soviet Union, he said, would provide two hydroelectric dams, a university, and helicopters, while China would provide £4,000,000 for factory construction. China also agreed to provide technicians to help with the building of a railway between Phnom Penh and the new port of Sihanoukville, and Czechoslovakia was said to be ready to build three factories in Cambodia. The Sihanoukville port, which was recently built with French financial assistance, is already linked to the capital by a highway built with United States aid.
Area and Population.
Area, 66,800 sq. mi. Pop. (est. 1961), 5,000,000. Phnom Penh (cap.), 500,000.
Prince Norodom Sihanouk rules as Head of State and Prime Minister. Foreign Minister, Nhiek Tioulong.
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, rubber, corn.
Major trading countries: France, United States, Hong Kong, Japan. Imports (1960): 3,220 million riels, 20.7% of which was financed by U.S. assistance. Exports (1960): 2,441 million riels.
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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