Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Keng Vannsak dies, leaving profound intellectual legacy

Keng Vannsak dies, leaving profound intellectual legacy

Keng Vannsak dies, leaving profound intellectual legacy

Scholars praise deceased colleague whose contributions to education, they say, continue to shape young Cambodian minds

A RENOWNED professor of Cambodian literature credited with creating the first Khmer typewriter died of lung failure on Thursday at the Montmorency hospital in Paris. He was 84 years old.

The death of Keng Vannsak, who was formerly a professor at Phnom Penh's Lycee Sisowath, was mourned by many of his erstwhile colleagues, who said it was a great loss for the nation.  

"He was a true scholar, and he helped to establish modern Khmer literature, culture and civilization," reflected Miech Ponn, a scholar at the Buddhism Institute in Phnom Penh.

"We respect him because he was a real patriot, and he offered a basic education for the young generation," said Cambodian  historian 

Michel Tranet.

Keng Vannsak had an unparalleled depth and breadth of knowledge, and was a truly original thinker, said Ros Chantraboth, vice president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia.

He had written many books on Cambodian culture, theatre, poetry and was also a creative author - penning a series of short stories and establishing the first centre for higher education focused entirely on Khmer literature. He also created a writing system to guide the creation of Khmer words.

Keng Vannsak left Cambodia for France in 1974 when he was appointed the Cambodian ambassador to that country. After the Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975, he decided not to return. He has never been back to Cambodia.

"We're sorry  he never returned to Cambodia, [as he could have] instructed the young generation who still learn from his achievements," Ros Chantraboth said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Stock photo agencies cash in on Khmer Rouge tragedy
    Stock-photo companies selling images from S-21 raises ethics concerns

    A woman with short-cropped hair stares directly into the camera, her head cocked slightly to the side. On her lap is a sleeping infant just barely in the frame. The woman was the wife of a Khmer Rouge officer who fell out of favour, and

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the