This paper analyses the Khmer document entitled “Affairee 〔Affaire〕 de Oknha Reachea Monty〔Ukañâ Râjâ Mupti〕 directeur Islamique sur le choix du chef de pagode, à Kompong Cham (1914)” in the possession of the National Archive in Phnom Penh (Document No. 20811), which refers to the nomination of a Hakim Me Vat of Chams-Chhvéas in Kieng Romiet Village, Tboung Khmum Province.
Muslim Chams constitute “the second largest ethnic group” in the Kingdom of Cambodia, where Buddhist Khmers account for more than 90% of the population. From the late 1990s, numerous results of surveys on contemporary Chams have been released, but only few attempts have so far been made at historical studies on Chams in Cambodia. The principal reason is that there are few historical sources on Chams, especially those written by Chams themselves. Thus, Document No. 20811 is considered as a rare example.
From the analysis of this source, we can recognize the following points. (1) Chiefs of Muslim Chams-Chhvéas in Cambodia were given the highest title of ministers, Ukañâ, by the Cambodian King. (2) In order to enhance their power, they relied on the King and the Buddhist monks, who had supreme authority in Cambodia. Ukañâ Râjâ Mupti insisted that being appointed as Ukañâ by the Cambodian King, gave him the official authority to control every Cham-Chhvéa in Cambodia, and asserted his right to nominate Hakim Me Vat of each mosque. His rival Ukañâ Râjâdhipatî / Râjâbhaktî appointed a Hakim with the backing of a high priest of Vat Unnalom in Phnom Penh. (3) Chiefs of Chams-Chhvéas announced the appointment of Hakim to the village leader, Me Khum, and asked him to give his assistance to Hakim Me Vat. Me Khum, as well as Chaovay Srok, the governor of the province, only approved their decision after, and avoided becoming actively involved in a matter inside the community of Cham-Chhvéa.
However, it must be noted that Document No. 20811 provides only one account and that we need to compile more information in order to describe the history of Chams-Chhvéas in Cambodia.