A GROUP of researchers at the Royal Academy of Cambodia plans to trace the origins of the Tai ethnic group, which is said to have arrived from the north before populating areas as far afield as eastern India, southern China and Thailand.
The project will be led by the academy’s secretary general, Sum Chhum Bun, who said that the five-member group will begin its research next week in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in China’s Yunnan province, as well as some parts of Thailand.
He said the purpose of the research was to track the migrations of ethnic Tais from Xishuangbanna south into present-day Thailand, where they established the Sukothai empire in parts of the Angkorean empire in the 13th century, a move that he said “disturbed, threatened and weakened” the declining Khmer empire.
He said the research was not intended to denigrate the Tai ethnic group – including the people of present-day Thailand – but rather to “dig up the truth” for new generations.
“Whenever we are clearly aware of their origin, we have measures to protect the origin of the Khmers, our territory at present and into the future,” he said.
He added that the research would take between six months and a year to complete and would be compiled into a book and a documentary film.