Those who want a copy of the recently-published Khmer version of Queen Mother Monineath’s historically significant journal can do so at the Queen Mother Library in Phnom Penh.
The Queen Mother originally recorded her experience in handwritten French. In 2021, Her Majesty authorized the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam) to publish an English translation of her journal to provide greater access to the public.
Her Majesty’s Journal was translated from French into English by Ambassador Julio A. Jeldres, who served for 12 years as Senior Private Secretary to the late King Norodom Sihanouk. It was titled, “Witness to History: The Journal of Cambodia’s Queen Mother.”
The Khmer version of the book was translated and published by DC-Cam earlier this month.
“For Cambodians living here in Cambodia, they can pick up a copy from Queen Mother Library, or we can, in some cases, deliver it to them at home,” said Youk Chhang, DC-Cam director.
“I will find all possible means so that a hundred thousand Cambodian youths can have a copy of the HM QM Journal.”
According to Chhang over 4,000 copies of the Khmer-language book had been distributed to teachers, Khmer Rouge survivors, monks, and students in Anlong Veng, Tboung Khmum, Prey Veng, and Kampong Cham provinces.
“For Cambodian readers, it is a national treasure,” Youk said. “It is an honour and a love for the country. We cannot know ourselves if we do not have an accurate memory of our history. For foreign researchers, it is important to understand that Cambodia was at a significant crossroads in the Cold War, struggling between ideologies, political systems, and foreign policy agendas. HM QM (Her Majesty Queen Mother) Journal provides an important resource.”
The books have also been sent to 42 embassies and residences in Phnom Penh. Four copies, for example, have been given to the Embassy of the Philippines in Cambodia.
“The copies were shared with our locally hired Cambodian staff, who were enthusiastic to read Her Majesty, the Queen Mother’s journal,” said Maria Amelita Aquino, Filipino Ambassador to Cambodia.
On Wednesday, 100 copies of the journal were distributed to Cham Muslim teachers and students at Ihyaaudeen Islamic School in Chraing Chomres, Phnom Penh,
During the book distribution, Kob Hasanah, 29, was very excited to receive a copy of the journal as was keen to read the Queen Mother’s writings.
Hakem Sles, 72, in charge of the mosque and the Islamic school, is originally from Sangkat Chrang Chamres. He was evacuated to Memut district and then Kampong Speu province during the Khmer Rouge. At the book distribution, he was asked to present a copy of the journal to each of the teachers. Upon receiving a copy of the journal himself, he quickly read it, and whenever he came across any particular dates or places, he would connect them to his own experience.“We do not know much about big events, but we still remember what happened to us personally. We cannot erase one’s memories of one’s own experience. It is still very recent,” he said.