After saying my departure to the Tun, I left the room with the rest of the press staff. But unexpectedly, a happy surprised came. I was invited by a personnel from one of the local press clubs to attend the garden party. Happily, I agreed and I was partnered with a lady reporter, Michiyo Yonamine, to join the Tun Entourage Convoy.
A black chauffeur-driven Toyota was awaiting for both of us. Altogether I counted ahead of our car were 6 other cars. There was no special traffic patrol on the road for the invited VIPs eventhough this time it was the rush hour period. We had to stop several times due to the evening traffic congestion.
The Garden Party was held at Shikinaen Garden. Shikinaen was a royal garden villa which was said to have been constructed in 1799. The garden was used by the royal members of the Ryukyu Kingdom not only for recreational purposes during the hot, humid summer months but also for diplomatic affairs such as when they hosted reception parties for investiture envoys from the emperor of China.
The garder was lit by soft light at every tree down the stone-path. It looked really romantic in the soft evening night. I came once before but it was in the day time and I can see the garden was more pictureque by the moonlight.
There was a welcome speech by the press staff and a welcome clap was given to our Tun. His speech was not serious, mostly light-humoured. I remembered he said there was not much difference between Malaysia and Okinawa except for the weather. He continued that it would be nice if the Japanese can transport this beautiful weather to Malaysia, everybody laughed at this! I found this to be quite amusing. He also said that this was his second trip here, the first one was few decades ago and he remembered "the Habu and the mangoose fight" he saw that time. "Anyway, there is no fight now", he joked, everybody laughed again. The Tun made a "kanpai" toast and he went round the crowd chatting away.
(See the Tun & Datok Marzuki-the ambassador to Japan-behind me!).
Then, the Governor of Okinawa made a speech about the history of Shikinaen Garden, followed by The ex-Pm of Russia, Mikhail Gorbachev.
I was with Tun Datin Sri Dr. Hasmah when we were served a plateful of sushi. It seemed quite difficult for her to stand while trying to negotiate the chopsticks on the sushi. I pointed to her some chairs nearby to sit but she rejected this offer, prefering to stand. I brought to her attention that she was eating "belut panggang" or barbecued eel and she said "yes, I like this".
She was eating half way through the sushi and someone informed her to get ready. Immediately she and the rest of the protocol troop put down their plates and rushed to follow Tun Dr. Mahathir. This is really the meaning of loyalty and puntuality.
They made their way gingerly towards the convoy of cars waiting. They have to walk gingerly because the footpath was just lumps of gravel stones and quite hard to manoeuvre with the low glow lightning.
After the last convoy left slowly, other prominent guests made their departures as well. We waited for the closing speech and made our way out. This is what I call a Personal Historical Happening of My Life.