29 January 2013
Cambodia: This Day in History
29th January, 2003
The rumour that popular Thai Actress 'Kob' (real name Suvanant Kongying, seen above) had claimed Angkor Wat belonged to Thailand and that the Khmer people were 'like worms' quickly spread across Phnom Penh.
Enraged residents of the city set alight seventeen Thai-owned businesses and then set their sights on the Thai embassy.
Thai diplomatic officials fled out the back way and were spirited away by local slum-dwellers while Cambodian police stood, watched, and did nothing.
More than 700 Thais hot-footed it out of the capital and the land borders between the two countries were closed to Thai and Cambodian nationals.
Total damages came to a total of more than US$50 million. International condemnation of the Cambodian government- the US said that they were 'irresponsible," "incompetent" and guilty of "nationalistic rhetoric"- forced Cambodian Prime Minister to agree to pay the Thai government compensation for the damage to the embassy and to negotiate damages payments with the business owners.
Not a credible shred of evidence was ever offered that showed that Kob had insulted the Khmer people in any way.