Kampot in the 1960s: The picture of ‘a prosperous provincial town’

Bokor on the opening morning in 1962.
Bokor on the opening morning in 1962. THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES

Kampot in the 1960s: The picture of ‘a prosperous provincial town’

Marie-François Chatel was a professor between 1960 and 1965 at the Lycée Preah Reach Samphear in Kampot:

“Kampot was, along with Battambang and Kampong Cham, a prosperous provincial town. Still, it was very different from Phnom Penh. Only five or six paved roads, no tuk- tuks or cyclos.

“Independence was relatively recent. Outside of the national education, the French were still present in Kampot: plantation owners, entrepreneurs, soldiers training the Cambodian army, doctors. Relations with the locals were cordial.

“In the lycee, the students were disciplined by a respected principal. All the civil servants spoke perfect French. My relations with the students were warm.

“The future criminals like Khieu Sampan were already in power in the 60s under Sihanouk, but there was nothing worrying at the time. Some Khmer professors were imbibed with leftist anti-French propaganda. I sensed their influence from the hostile attitude of my students who I took over from these politicised professors. But nothing which could menace the future it seemed at the time.

“In short, a part of me stayed in Kampot.”

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