Ma Ha Son Thong (1910 – 1997)

Ma Ha Son Thong’s real name is Son Thong, alias is Muoi Tang. He was born on February 11, 1910 in a middle-class family, in Giong Tranh, Tap Ngai village, Ngai Long commune, Tieu Can district. He lived in Nhi Truong village, Vinh Loi commune, Cau Ngang district. As a Khmer ethnic minority, from his childhood, he was led by his parents to follow the Buddhist path. He began the religious life at 14 years old in Chong-Top pagoda. Mr. Mai Tan Nhon taught him. The teacher realised that he was intelligent and hard-working so he was sent to Thailand to learn Pali (a Prakrit language native to the Indian subcontinent) in 1926. Over 10 years of learning Pali and Buddhism scriptures, Ma Ha degree was conferred on him right after his graduation.

Some time later, he returned to teach Pali and Buddhism at Ba Giam pagoda in Don Chau commune, Tra Cu district, Tra Vinh province. He was one of the patriotic Ma Ha. Although he lived in Buddhist class, he always had a great love with the homeland, never cooperated with French colony. When the August Revolution in 1945 broke out, he immediately participated in patriotic movements, firstly, he joined Tien Phong Pioneers movement in Tap Ngai.

In 1946, he participated in Youth Tra Vinh movement. Thanks to his charisma for the young and the monks, all of them followed the revolution. In July 1947, Tra Vinh Provincial Administrative Resistance Committee established Khmer Politics Committee. At the end of 1948, Tra Vinh supporters of I-sa-rac army association were formed by Mr. Thach Soc, who was Chairman and Ma Ha Son Thong was appointed as Deputy Chairman. In 1949, Ma Ha Son Thong replaced Mr. Thach Soc as Chairman of I-sa-rac association.
At the end of this year, he was assigned to Cambodia three months. He worked very actively because of the solidarity between Vietnam-Cambodia. In 1950, Ma Ha Son Thong was sent to Cambodia to attend the conference on the establishment of Cambodian People's Liberation Committee.

In 1951, Ma Ha Son Thong was also sent to Cambodia in Vietnamese delegation visiting I-sa-rac army on international duty. The delegation was led by Nguyen Van Nguyen with 85 members. He worked here for two years from Kampong Chhnang to Tonlé Sap, Battambang province.

With a deep understanding of the country, history, traditions and beliefs of Cambodian people, Ma Ha Son Thong has contributed to strengthen the Vietnamese-Cambodian solidarity. The Cambodian people became more aware of the sacrifice and combat unity of I-sa-rac army during the anti-colonial cause of Cambodian revolution. In 1954, he was promoted to Tra Vinh Provincial Party Committee. He was assigned to work in Khmer section and was one of Party member.

In the years 1956-1957, his activities from the pagodas had mobilized most of “Nguy” police in his area . He held many Buddhist ceremonies but contented "anti-war, support for peace". At the ceremony at Thom-Rom with over 30 thousand people, Ma Ha Son Thong succeeded in calling for Khmer people to support the peace and stop the war. Representatives of Kingdom of Cambodia have included this lecture on propaganda in the country.

In 1957, implementing the policy "sedimentation", Mr. Ma Ha Thong worked for Khmer section in Soc Trang. Thanks to his prestige in the monk, knowledgeable Khmer people have helped him in the mobilization of the masses. This was the period in the revolutionary movement in the South that had many difficulties due to the policy of My-Diem. He was protected by the monks and many people so he could still work safely. In 1959, he was commissioned to work in Southwest Military Region.

 In 1960, he was a member of the Southwest Front. Until 1967, he was appointed as Deputy Chairman of Southwest Front Committee, in charge of the Khmer work in the region. He was also Deputy Chairman of Southwest Revolutionary Committee. In 1971, Ma Ha Son Thong was promoted to Southwest Party Committee, in charge of Khmer section of the Party Committee until 1975.    
After the liberation day, he returned to work in his hometown. When Cuu Long Province was establised in 1976, he was a member of Provincial Party Committee, Chairman of Provincial Fatherland Front Committee and also a member of Vietnam Central Fatherland Front Committee. He was a member of VI and VII National Assembly and Vice-Chairman of Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs of VII National Assembly.
Ma Ha Son Thong’s life from the day leaving the priesthood, he followed the revolutionary path of the Party. He lived honestly and simply. He spoke Thai very fluently, mastered Pali and catechism’s Buddhism but he was humble so the monks, intellectuals and Khmer people completey trusted him.   
In the last years of his life, although he was retired by the Party and the State, Ma Ha Son Thong did not refuse any tasks in implementing the Party's policy on religion.

Ma Ha Son Thong passed away on April 25, 1998 at the age of 87 years. He was awarded medals of:
     - Liberation class I
     - Determined victory class I
     - Resistance war class I (Anti-French)
     - Resistance war class I (Anti-American)
     - Independence class I
     - Badge of joining 40 years in the Party.

In 1952, the Southern Administrative Committee awarded him the Certificate of Merit "Building Khmer-Vietnamese Solidarity".

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