Thursday, January 30, 2003
Maybe I should reconsider what I wrote the other day about entertainers expressing political opinions.
Armored vehicles patrolled Cambodia's capital today after nationalist mobs attacked Thai businesses and torched the Thai Embassy to protest reported remarks by a Thai actress about the ownership of Cambodia's renowned Angkor Wat temple.
At the Thai Embassy compound, military policemen fired shots into the air to disperse rioters who had made bonfires of furniture, motorcycles and cars.
After a day of flag-burning and anti-Thai chanting that played on the inherent distrust many Cambodians feel toward their larger Southeast Asian neighbor, a crowd massed outside the embassy toward nightfall.
About 50 protesters climbed the embassy walls and threw rocks into the compound, smashing at least four windows, before the arson attack. [...]
The riots followed remarks attributed to the popular Thai actress Suwanna "Kob" Konying, reported in Cambodian newspapers, that the huge, 12th-century Angkor Wat, Cambodia's top cultural icon, belonged to Thailand. The actress has denied making the comments.
Angry crowds prowled the capital well into the night, setting fire to cars and attacking Thai-owned and other foreign businesses, including Cambodia Shinawatra, a telecommunications company set up by the Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. [...]
Thaksin expressed dismay at the damage to his nation's embassy and at one point offered to send troops to help Cambodian authorities restore order.