Ieu Koeus: Cambodian Politician, Poet, Author, Journalist, and Researcher​

A photo of Ieu Koeus

Ieu Koeus is a researcher of the Khmer language, a poet, a Khmer-French journalist, and author of a Khmer language books, an entrepreneur, the founder of the Democrat Party, a member of Parliament, Deputy Minister and President of the National Assembly. 

Mr. Ieu Koeus was born in Sangke commune, Battambang province in 1905. He is only son of Mr. Iev Heng and Mrs. Teuk. He studied at Wat Kandal, Battambang Provincial Primary School, Preah Sisowath Secondary School in Phnom Penh and Hanoi Business School. He got Grade A in the exam in 1927.

Denny Freer in Phnom Penh and Memot Rubber Plantation hired him as an employee until early 1928 before he started his own business as a construction entrepreneur in Memot until 1932. In Kampong Cham court in 1928, he won a lawsuit against a French rubber plantation owner who used his power to insult him. At that time, Cambodians who were able to win the case against France, especially France with such a high status, was a very rare event.

In 1929, he married Kim Siri, also known as Penh. He had two sons. Even though he was running a business and having a family, he still tried to study until he passed the scholarship exam in 1932 to continue to study at the Institute of Chemistry in Bordeaux, France. 

Unluckily, the French government in Indochina did not allow him to study.

From 1942 to 1946, he was a public entrepreneur in Battambang province. During that time, he became a member of the Cambodian National Assembly and a deputy member of the Joint Committee of the Council for the Protection of Economic Interests and Finance in Indochina and served as a member of the Joint Commission of the Cambodian Government.

From 1941-45, he was in the pharmaceutical business and the soap industry in Battambang province. In 1945, he came to Phnom Penh as a deputy Minister of the Economy. The following year, he co-founded the Democratic Party and chaired the National Assembly in drafting the constitution.

In 1947, he was the president of the National Assembly again until 1949. He became a member of the Association of Friends of Alumni and Friends of Preah Sisowath High School and High School, the Association for the Relief of Monks and the Cultural Committee with Samdech Monk Chuon Nath is the chairman and also serves as an advisor to the Pali School Friends Association. He prepared the Khmer alphabet with the Cultural Committee and he edited the Khmer script for the typewriter. He was also a researcher of the Khmer language, a poet, a Khmer-French journalist, and the author of the book "Khmer Language".

His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk was pleased to present the Royal Gold Medal, His Majesty the King, and the Royal Medal Kingdom of Cambodia.

At the end of 1949, he accompanied His Majesty the Prince on Gems to France. After receiving medical treatment and returning to his country within a few days, a grenade exploded, killing him after he had just closed the meeting of the Board of Directors of the Democratic Party at 6 p.m on January 14, 1950. His words before his death are known by the words of non-violence.

His body was cremated at Wat Botum Vatey Reachvaram pagoda. He was buried at Wat Keo Preah Phleung pagoda in Phnom Penh.

(Source: Khmer Language book by Ieu Koeus, published in 1995, and Cambodia Express-News, published on October 9, 2011)

In 1945, IEU KOEUS became the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the Ministry of Economy. In 1946, he formed the Democratic Party and was appointed by King Norodom Sihanouk as the caretaker President of the National Assembly. He was the founder of the first Democratic Party in Cambodia to demand independence from French colonial rule. From 1947 to 1949, he was president of the National Assembly. From September 20, 1949, to September 28, 1949, he was the Prime Minister in charge of the Ministry of Interior. Ieu Koeus drafted the 1947 constitution, the first constitution to define a constitutional monarchy in use in Cambodia. He died in a bomb blast on January 14, 1950.

(Excerpted from a book on the history of Cambodia and the Khmer elite, written by Saku Samoth)