Welcoming the deputy prime minister (Sok An) to Cambodia back again at the airport obviously was not my job, but I had to go along with other two AFP journalists. I wanted to get involved with something like that, though not requested by my boss or colleagues.
On the day of officially welcoming the Deputy Prime Minister back to the country after his trip to the ICJ court, a lot of local journalists and a few foreign ones zigzagged their way to the airport. Nobody with no relevant obligation was allowed in at a special airport for VIPs. I remember vividly that on that day, no only the media people but also the government officials queued up smilingly and grinned at each other. Creepy, indeed! Noise started to soar up. It came from everywhere around the room. How boring, I kept saying to myself.
I thought I shouldn’t have wasted my time waiting around for nothing. Well, perhaps an experience like this would be worthwhile, as you might think. Every official was the centre of attention of the journalists who made a mental note of whom to interview later for their respective media organizations. Later came “the star” everybody was awaiting but as soon as the deputy appeared, he already rushed to a small VIP room.
Disappointed, all the journalists hurried to the Olympic stadium to listen to an important speech by the deputy on Preah Vihear. That was where a huge gathering took place.
Desperate to get to the stadium before everybody else, my colleagues and I hopped into the car and dashed out of the airport. It’s incredibly my first time to drive in a queue along with other officials’ cars while the wind blew the sound of horn away. How does it feel to be among the powerful and look out at the others stopping their vehicles for you? How does it feel to see traffic police blocking other people’s way for only your group?
Wow, the speed was like a rocket launched into the sky. It was 15 minutes, 100% faster than going through normal traffic. After all, this air of importance lasted very briefly and left no good feeling afterwards. I didn’t like it and am not gonna like doing it ever. My confusion was put to rest after we reached the stadium only to find that there were so many people and the official speech by the same important official was toooo boring and prolonged.
That event didn’t satisfy me. My presence was there but my mind was somewhere else. No rise in my spirits. If it were a true act of patriotism, my heart would have been touched by it, for sure.