January 18: Story appears in Rasmei Angkor newspaper stating that an interview
with Thai actress Suwanan Kongying, known as Morning Star, had proved she looked
down on Cambodia and its people. The article said that any Cambodian official wanting
her to perform in Cambodia would first have to return Angkor Wat to her. The Cambodian
government later acknowledges the article is entirely bogus and no such interview
took place. The editor later tells the Post that he based the story on what someone
had told him and had not checked its veracity.
January 27: Prime Minister Hun Sen, while opening a school for blind and deaf
children in Kampong Cham town, tells the public that he recently heard that people
were angered by Morning Star's comments. He said the people's reaction to her looking
down on them had loomed large. He says: "The price of Miss Morning Star is not
equal to some patch of the grass at Angkor Wat." At the end of his speech he
asks TV5 not to broadcast the soap opera she is appearing in that is being broadcast
in Cambodia. His comments were carried on the news that night, including his description
of her as 'Theft Star'.
January 27: First student protests: around 40 youths on motorbikes race around
the city throwing bricks and tearing up and burning posters of the actress.
January 28: Suwanan Kongying denies making any such statements.
January 29: Early morning: yet more protests outside the Thai Embassy. Later
in the day students return and eventually break in and loot the building then set
it on fire. Students say they are angered at a radio broadcast that stated the Cambodian
Embassy in Bangkok had been looted and 20 Cambodians killed and set on fire. That
story too is not true. Keen observers wonder just who is behind the stories, and
the Thais are convinced the entire episode is a setup. The protesters then traverse
the city trashing and burning at least a dozen Thai businesses. The army is called
out and sporadic shooting lasts through the night.