The Legend of Preah Ko Preah Keo And Its Influence On The Cambodian People’ S Perception of The Thais
THE LEGEND OF PREAH KO PREAH KEO AND ITS INFLUENCE ON THE CAMBODIAN PEOPLE’ S PERCEPTION OF THE THAIS
MA in Southeast Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, 2006
Findings suggest that all versions of the Legend of Preah Ko Preah Keo portrayed Thai people more or less negatively. The Thais were perceived as invasive, ambitious, tricky etc. The story showed that Thailand had taken Preah Ko and Preah Keo, the symbols of peace and prosperity, from Cambodia. Therefore, the former was also considered as the cause of the decline of the latter. Findings also indicate that in the modern time the legend was popular and influential when there occurred political tension between both countries. The story was promoted by Cambodian leaders in the late 1950s and early 1960s when Cambodian-Thai relations were strained. In later periods, it is also observed that new versions of the legend have been published when there were difficult relations between both countries or when Cambodia attempted to counter the flow of foreign influence. The results also show that young educated Cambodian people in Phnom Penh at present have both positive and negative perceptions of Thai people. However, their negative perception is not much influenced by the legend, but more by contemporary factors. This shows the decline of the story’s influence. Some young educated Cambodian people perceive Thai people as clever and hardworking, while some others hold negative perception of Thais. Their negative perceptions come from the teaching of history, news releases about border encroachment, behavior of some Thai people etc. This reflects that there is still lack of understanding between people of both countries.