One of the sons of Sok An, a longtime close ally of Prime Minister Hun Sen who is also the minister in charge of the Council of Ministers, has been appointed an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to a royal decree obtained yesterday.
The royal decree, signed by Council of Ministers Secretary-General Soy Sokha, says that the King on November 16 appointed Sok Soken to the position, with the order effective immediately.
“We, Norodom Sihamoni, promote His Excellency Sok Soken to be undersecretary of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,” the royal decree says. “Hun Sen . . . must implement this effective immediately.”
Soken declined to comment on his appointment yesterday, saying he was busy.
Opposition spokesman Yim Sovann, however, said that the appointment of one of the most powerful minister’s sons to a top-level role screamed of nepotism. “In state or government affairs, you should promote people who do not have members of the family [already in government] in order to prevent a conflict of interest,” Sovann said. “If the CNRP wins the election, the CNRP would not do something like this.”
However, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said that Soken was qualified and that he believed he would serve the Foreign Ministry well. “Even if he is young, he received professional training abroad both in languages and in the capacities that meet our country’s demands,” Siphan said.