This Week In Cambodian History: January 15-21

At dawn on 16 January 1941, the French (at war with Thailand) launched a large counterattack on the Thai-held Cambodian villages of Yang Dang Khum and Phum Preav, initiating the fiercest battle of the war. Poor co-ordination and non-existent intelligence against ready and waiting Thai forces saw the French retreat back to Sisophon. The Thais were held back from advancing by the artillery of the Foreign Legion.

On January 16, 1983, PAVN recaptures the hamlet of Yeang Dangkum, east of Nong Chan. The KPNLF captured the hamlet 26 December and held it as part of a series of initiatives at year’s end.

On January 17 1941, a French naval squadron, along with naval aircraft flying out of Ream airbase, caught a Thai naval detachment by surprise at anchor off Ko Chang island. The subsequent Battle of Ko Chang resulted in the sinking of five Thai warships with just 11 French sailors killed.  Fearing the war would turn in France’s favor, the Japanese intervened, proposing an armistice agreement.

On January 17, 1968, a small band of Khmer Communists, now known as the Khmer Rouge, launched their first offensive. It was aimed more at gathering weapons and spreading propaganda than in seizing territory. Members of the group numbered no more than 4–5,000.

On January 17, 2004, The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, agreed to provide $10 million in financing to Société Concessionnaire de l’Aéroport, which held a 25-year concession from the Cambodian government to build and operate the Phnom Penh International Airport and the Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport (17 years later two more airports are being built close by).

On January 18, 1990, the Cambodian government agreed to build a church for all Christians, on the request of a Hungarian diplomat. Situated around six kilometers from Phnom Penh, the church was to be led by a tripartite committee, consisting Catholics, Christians of other denominations, and the Patriotic Front.

On January 18-19, 1959 former Cambodian Ambassador to London, and Sihanouk loyalist Sam Sary (father of Sam Rainsy) fled to Thailand, days after the King claimed a secret plot by the US to kill the monarch had be uncovered.

On January 19, 1993, ACLEDA was established as a national NGO for micro and small enterprises development and credit lender.

US Congressman Harrington’s resolution H.RES.508 directs the Secretary of Defense to furnish the House of Representatives with data concerning the extent of the bombing in Cambodia and Laos from 20 January 20 1969 – 30 April 1970. Referred to the Committee on Armed Services (HASC).

On January 21, 1875, France established the Bank Agricole, representing the French National Bank as the official payment bank of the colonial regime. It had the right to issue notes and controlled the Indochina treasury accounts and all the financial resources of the colonial government. In 1880, it began to issue currency (coins) called “Piastres” (French: Piastres) for the first time, and began issuing banknotes two years later.

On January 21, 1949, Penn Nouth stepped down from his first time in office as Prime Minister, having taken the role on 15 August 1948. He would be Prime Minister 7 times in total (also 1953, 1954–1955, 1958, 1961, 1968-1969)- a combined total of 5 years, 222 days.

Penn Nouth

On January 21, 1983, Prince Sihanouk secretly arrives in Thailand for visits to resistance zones. Vietnamese artillery attack forces the KPNLF base the 0’Bok pass to move into Thailand. Non-combatants return at the end of the month.

On January 21, 2010, Southeast Asia TV (SEATV; UHF Channel 31) became the ninth Cambodian TV station to go on air.

On January 21, 2016, The head of a 7th century statue of a Hindu deity was returned by France and reattached to its body Thursday for display at a Cambodian museum, more than 130 years after it was spirited away.

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