My dear Kacvey,

So, for people who do not like “change”, this is going to be a big “change” that they are creating for themselves!

What’s all this “change” about, you may ask?

It’s about the big nabob who has decided that, from now on and once a year, he will invite newsgatherers to an audience to share discussions and questions and also to dine and dance in their company. Nobody knows yet what would be the format for discussions and questions, nor the list of the invitees, the menu, the wine list or the name of the band, but MinInfo has been tasked to draw an operations plan for the event.

Pending the chicken is actually hatched, let imagine a parody of a fictional Q & A between Dau Chéch and a newsgatherer. Here is how the avant-première would go:

Newsgatherer: Thank you, Sir, for agreeing to sit down and have a chat with the press.

Dau Chéch: It wasn’t easy to come to this decision.

Newsgatherer: What so? Something big had happened that compelled you a change of heart?

Dau Chéch: You remember Sunnylands, in February? Well, in the middle of it, all of us had to witness President Obama addressing the press corps after the announcement of the death of an US Supreme Court Justice. It was drama at its apogee, and President Obama handled it confidently and brilliantly even against the barrage of the Republican opposition. I couldn’t sleep in the plane on the way back home, thinking about the nature of relationship between the US President and America Fifth Estate.

Newsgatherer: Then what, Sir?

Dau Chéch: Well, it was a big revelation to me: President Obama represents the US, so does the “People” of the Congress, and so also does the press that symbolizes the American people’s opinion, view and thinking. It’s a huge triangular interaction. Against this background, my unhappiness with the protests by the Cambodian-Americans against me is peanut. It wakes me up from my small dreamland. Am I a statesman or am I not?

Newsgatherer: You seem to be very philosophical today, Sir. So you saw the most powerful man on the planet in real action, and it belittles you, doesn’t it?

Dau Chéch: Well, you can’t compare Cambodia with the US, but to be in the laboratory of superpower scares and also humbles the hell out of me!

Newsgatherer: Is there any other factor besides the Sunnylands experience?

Dau Chéch: In fact, there is one more.

Newsgatherer: Surprise! You must have been pondering quite a bit, Sir!

Dau Chéch: Because I’ve failed to convince many Cambodians and many foreigners that Cambodia is no longer living in the shadow of the Communist regime which I once belonged to, I want this time to show them a different “me.”

Newsgatherer: Oh, Sir, this is not a theater stage where you can change costumes and act different roles in one play!

Dau Chéch: I know that. I could do it if I only could stand next to President François Hollande on the steps of the Palais de l’Elysée, or next to President Obama on the White House lawn or next to Prime Minister David Cameron in front of 10 Downing Street and in front of a forest of microphones responding to questions from the press!

Newsgatherer: So, you often have had those dreams at night?

Dau Chéch: Call it dream’s weakness! Why do you want to go so much into my brain?

Newsgatherer: Not going into your brain, Sir, but just try to make sense about what you would be doing. But that doesn’t explain your change of heart.

Dau Chéch: No, it doesn’t but when the reaction against my Facebook “like” was getting stronger and harsher, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had to put 2 and 2 together.

Newsgatherer: Which is…?

Dau Chéch: Which is that I have to find a better way to communicate with the public through the press or media to reaffirm my statesmanship. I can no longer be afraid of the press!

Newsgatherer: You acknowledge then that your Facebook exploit is not enough and even falls short of your expectations?

Dau Chéch: Small ponds for small fish. Big issues need bigger stages.

Newsgatherer: So when you came to that conclusion, why didn’t you, for example, make the announcement at the end of the meeting of the Council of Ministers and in front of your own office?

Dau Chéch: Only MinIfo is aware of the plan, and there hasn’t been any meeting of the Council for quite sometimes now.

Newsgatherer: Then why giving to this Thailand-based Union Media of ASEAN the premiere?

Dau Chéch: Because there is no Cambodian “Union Media” that gives me any award?

Newsgatherer: Why do you need anybody to give you award when you can award any award you want to yourself, like the number of military stars on your shoulders?

Dau Chéch: Sometimes, a small recognition can make you happy!

Newsgatherer: Sir, when can we expect that “first ever” sitting-down with the press or whatever you call it?

Dau Chéch: MinInfo is putting things together and you’ll be informed in due course.

Newsgatherer: Then, Sir, what would be the criteria that you would give to MinInfo?

Dau Chéch: 1. Only journalists who never wrote negatively would be invited.
2. Only their legitimate spouses would be part of the dining and dancing program.
3. All questions must be submitted in advance in writing.
4. Questions will be orally raised exactly the same way they were written and submitted; any deviation will see the author expelled pronto from the event.
5. MinInfo will select the questions to be asked as not all the questions deserved to be answered; no follow-up questions allowed.
6. After Q & A, all portable devices will be confiscated and later returned to the owners when departing the event. “Indiscretion” can give headache later on.
Is that clear?

Newsgatherer: This will not be a spontaneous press conference?

Dau Chéch: I never said that it’s going to be spontaneous. It is a “prepared” press conference.

Newsgatherer: Sir, if you wanted to stand next to the Western world leaders for  live joint press conferences, you have to be ready to accept spontaneous or on-the-spot questions?

Dau Chéch: Everything starts with an education. This is the first tryout. I plan to be in this position until I am 90 years old, or when I feel I’d have enough, therefore I have plenty of times to prepare myself for “that” occasion.

Newsgatherer: Sir, you will then make a lot of journalists unhappy. They do their job, don’t they?

Dau Chéch: If they do their job, I also do mine. I’m not here to please them, but they are here to please me.

Newsgatherer: Then, those journalists will still continue to write negatively.

Dau Chéch: To write negatively is the job I create for them! You, included.


Update on 14 April 2016

Newsgatherer: Sir, have you seen an article about Mr. Putin’s annual call-in show as in this link

Dau Chéch: Mr. Putin is Mr. Putin. He deals with Russia. I deal with Cambodia, and I don’t need to hear millions of Cambodians asking me questions. I already have the answer to every possible question. I am the “Q & A.”