A Secret of the Song Called 'Goodbye Cambodia' by HM King Father Norodom Sihanouk - KNT Diary

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Secret of the Song Called 'Goodbye Cambodia' by HM King Father Norodom Sihanouk



'Goodbye Cambodia/Farewell Cambodia', the song composed and sung by Prince Norodom Sihanouk, is one of the most popular among his several songs. What was the mysterious reason behind this song? Why did he say 'Goodbye Cambodia'? Presumably, it was a sad story.

On 17 April 1975, Prince Sihanouk was informed of the Khmer Rouge's victory. Officially, he congratulated the revolutionaries' victory, but privately he was badly shaken. Why? It seemed that he was abandoned when he awaited news from the interior of Cambodia, at length and in vain. He decided to go into voluntary exile at Pyongyang, capital of North Korea in order to escape from a journalist who questioned him about the Khmer Rouge internal affair, which he found it difficult to answer. He gave the state of health of his mother, Queen Kossomak, as a reason for postponing his return to Cambodia. But the queen died in the last days of April and the prince's position was no clearer than before.

There, he wrote a song called "Goodbye Cambodia", at the end of May 1975. Convinced that he would never set foot on his native soil again. (Because he did not want to associate the affairs of the Khmer Rouge any more.)

(However, the Khmer Rouge needed his presence in order to legitimize its regime both at home and abroad. On 18 July 1975, Sarin Chhak and Thiounn Prasith went to Pyongyang and asked the prince to return, but he refused. Again, on 19 August Samdech Penn Nouth and Khieu Samphan went and asked him to come home. He was promised that he would remain head of state for life, and agreed.)

Lyric (Unofficial):

I-Goodbye Cambodia
Unwillingly to say goodbye
My mind has been determining
To be with you all the time
II-We have been close together
And have gone through thick and thin
No matter what happens
I promise to be faithful to you
R-Thinking of you when I was away
My love to you has never died
Because you are my motherland
III-Even though I have to die
I always strive to be your servant and protector
To serve with a faithful heart
To be with you forever

*Reference: Francois Ponchaud (1978), Cambodia Year Zero,Translated from the French by Nancy Amphoux, London: Allen Lane, pp.192-93.

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