President Souphanouvong, the symbol of solidarity for national liberation

This story is written to commemorate the 109th anniversary of the birth of President Souphanouvong (July 13, 1909 - July 13, 2018). 

Prince Souphanouvong, President Souphanouvong, Uncle Souphanouvong or Uncle Soupha - all these names are widely familiar to Lao people from all walks of life throughout the country.  His fame was also acknowledged and respected among people in neighbouring countries.

President Souphanouvong meets the public in a stronghold area. (File photo)

Their respect for President Souphanouvoung is the same as that accorded to other leading figures in the battle for national liberation as well as during the period of national development.
December 2, 1975, witnessed a historic event that saw the end of the feudal regime. This was no ordinary event, and was the sort of thing that might happen only once in a century. The day marked the emergence of newfound freedom and was a day of unity and of solidarity. The inspiring sense of national solidarity that prevailed made all Lao people feel proud and honourable.
President Souphanouvong had many special qualities. Even though he was born into a feudal class, he was not conceited. He played with ordinary children and was honest, thrifty, patient and gentle, as well as being well educated.  
Living in Khangkhay village, Xieng Khuang province from 1963-64, this writer had the opportunity to serve President Souphanouvong as his personal secretary and kept the accounts.
According to Mr Phimpho Panyanouvon, a retired officer and former secretary to President Souphanouvong, in 1967-1973, he returned to work in Viengxay district, Huaphan province. The caves that housed political and government leaders were in the same mountain and their work was supervised by President Souphanouvong. There was also an office committee responsible for office affairs. 
From 1976-1979, Mr Phimpho was assigned to help President Souphanouvong again as a master of ceremonies and as his secretary. Since Mr Phimpho lived in the stronghold area of Viengxay district alongside President Souphanouvong, he was able to get to know his life well. President Souphanouvong’s daily routine life was no different to that of other people. He got up early to exercise, and watered the vegetables that he had planted around the cave. Then he took a bath and cleaned his teeth before having breakfast and getting on with his work at his desk. Sometimes, he dispensed advice to soldiers, the police and ordinary people who needed his help.
President Souphanouvong was known as an intelligent person, both in Laos and internationally. When he decided to follow the path of working class folk, or farmers, or the revolutionaries, he devoted himself to these classes in an admirable fashion. That was a big sacrifice and a good example, for which he commands great respect. He did not think about position or rank and never considered it necessary to create a store of wealth for himself. In contrast, he devoted himself to the nation and his beloved homeland.
A major turning point occurred in 1946 when he was a military commander during the Thakhaek battle in Khammuan province, fighting the former colonialists and their henchmen. He was wounded during the fighting, but he looked on this as his gift to the people, showing great courage and never surrendering to the enemy. Even though many soldiers, police and ordinary people sacrificed their lives for the nation, the events at Thakhaek became a model in encouraging other armed units to fight for national liberation in the following years. 
President Souphanouvong was a student with diverse interests. He was a road and bridge engineer. He was a civil aviation mechanic. He was a language expert. He was an architect. He was a writer. He was a researcher and never stopped studying. He understood 11 foreign languages and learnt Russian during his time in Viengxay district as 12th language speaking.
He was also regular in his habits and was quite disciplined in allocating time for work, relaxation, eating and sleeping.
Once, he talked to me about time-saving methods. He told Mr Phimpho that if soldiers, government staff or anyone else needed a signature for something, you should do it as quickly as possible. This was because if you told them you had a meeting or were busy or there was some other reason why you could not sign the document, it meant they had wasted their time. They might live some distance from your office or have paid to travel to your office, and would have to do so again if you didn’t attend to them the first time. It would take only about 30 minutes to give them the stamp and signature they needed, and then you could continue with your work.
Even though President Souphanouvong died a long time ago, his decency and the outstanding outcome of his efforts, manifested in national liberation followed by national protection and development, remain in the minds of Lao people forever.
President Souphanouvong was a military commander. He was a professor with knowledge and ability. He was a national musician that the younger generation must learn from.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update July 13, 2018)

Newspaper Subscription l Newspaper Advertisement l Online Advertisement l Online Subscription

Vientiane Times Phonpapao Village, Unit 32, Sisattanak District, P.O.Box: 5723 Vientiane, Lao PDR
Tel: (856-21) 336042, 336048, Fax: (856-21) 336041

Copyright © 1999 Vientiane Times Newspaper.