King Norodom Sihamoni issued a royal decree on October 8 dismissing Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon from his post at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen, with Economy and Finance Minister Aun Pornmoniroth temporarily in charge.
Pornmoniroth will lead the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and assume the role in addition to his regular position until Sakhon’s successor is appointed, according to Hun Sen’s letter released later today. .
“The Acting Minister [Pornmoniroth] exercise full authority in accordance with applicable laws and regulations to direct and manage the work of the ministry, its subordinate units and officials, and any personnel who are administrative officers under its supervision,” the letter read.
Prior to his dismissal, Sakhon had been repeatedly reprimanded by Hun Sen in public ceremonies. In February, during the closing ceremony of the Interior Ministry’s annual meeting on its achievements and future directions, Hun Sen harshly reprimanded Sakhon for not being sufficiently committed to his role and for refusing to cooperate with d other ministries and institutions concerned.
“Sakhon, increase your cooperation. Among all my ministers, the one known for refusing to cooperate with others is the agriculture minister,” Hun Sen said.
The Prime Minister has urged all ministers to focus full-time on their posts, warning that it would not be difficult for him to fire one from their post, with only 24 hours at most needed to obtain a royal decree at this effect.
Sakhon could not be reached for comment on October 9.
Sakhon was appointed Minister of Agriculture in 2016. He previously served as Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology from 1998 to 2004 and was promoted to Secretary of State in 2004, a post he he held until his ministerial appointment.
On October 8, a day before his dismissal, Sakhon said in his regular social media post that he and his colleagues were transiting through Thailand, en route to Cambodia after completing a week-long assignment in Europe to discuss global food security and seek support. for the introduction of European agricultural production standards.
On October 9, shortly after assuming his additional role as Acting Minister, Pornmoniroth instructed all units under the Ministry of Agriculture to continue their work and protect all documents under his jurisdiction.
“The office of the former minister will retain and protect all current documents for delivery to the office of the new minister who will be appointed and take office,” he said.
He instructed Sakhon’s cabinet to transfer the ministry stamp to his office at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, saying he would assume responsibility for the stamp until a new minister was officially appointed.
He said if any documents needed to be checked – or a decision needed to be made – Agriculture Ministry officials should contact him.
Kin Phea, director of the Institute of International Relations at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said it is normal to replace members of government in certain circumstances if it improves public governance.
“People are hoping that the new minister will make significant changes to our agricultural sector,” he told the Post on Oct. 9.