The Water Festival is over. As the police claim, it ran smoothly without major incidents, and we all enjoyed a great celebration.
Really? Then, why did all the beggar music makers have to disappear from Sisowath Quay?
That is what happened on Saturday afternoon, when two trucks drove up on the street. Every beggar musician was forced into the trucks.
I wonder where they were sent. I wonder even more what the purpose was of this raid.
Let’s face it: There are two categories of beggars.
There are people just sticking out their hand begging for money. Sure, they can be a nuisance.
But there are also people trying to do something to honestly earn a little something by playing the drums or a fiddle, or whatever. It was this last category that was swept off the street on Saturday.
There was a blind man and a young boy who are a common sight on the riverfront. The two were happily sitting in front of my house, the man playing his “dro” while the boy was beating the drum.
All of a sudden, they were approached by a few men to drag them into the truck. The boy was yelling, screaming and crying in protest, but of course these men were no match for him, and they drove on to the next “beggar.”
Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with poor people making music on the streets, especially not during the Water Festival.
Is this another great idea of the Phnom Penh governor, in the same league as his banning of tourist boats from the riverfront? Or did he learn from Thailand’s prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who “beautified” the streets of Bangkok during last month’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting?
Whatever the reason, I think it’s a shame. Concentrate on pickpockets and the like, not on poor people trying to earn some extra money during the Water Festival. Surely, the celebration was not for them!