Historically, France colonized a number of countries, one of which was Cambodia. Close to a century, the French colonization in Cambodia is seen to be a two-edge knife because it was signed under two treaties, the friendly one in 1863 and the physically imposed one in 1884. Gaining the colonial power and right to govern Cambodia, the French colonizers have been perceived to have reformed the local administration and promoted economic growth.
First, the colonizers transformed Cambodia’s administrative setting from being as a highly-centralized government that went top-down from the King residing in the capital surrounded by five ministers1 to a more decentralized territory in which five administrative levels were established. These five levels; Capital city, Dey, Khet, Srok and Phum2; raised an issue on both bureaucratic and autonomous perspectives. In the former point of view, this decentralization approach created a complicated government system in which there was no a harmonized standard to rule each Khet or province. In the latter school of thought, the approach promoted autonomy, to some extent, from the federal government and the King.
Second, after being made a protectorate, the French side came to realized that it was just an illusion that Cambodia had not-yet-to-discover wealth and that the capital city could never become the Singapore of Indochina. Consequently, the French did not attempt to promote Cambodia’s village-based economy other than to just collect taxes from the local people. During the French time, Cambodians were forced to pay the highest taxes per capita in Indochina; as a result, there was a public outcry, bringing tens of thousands of peasants into the capital city to petition the King for a tax reduction in 1916. The protest attempt led violence between the colonizer and the local peasants as in 1925 the French resident was assassinated after he threaten to arrest any tax delinquent. However, the French managed to build several roads...
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