Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM doles out Sok An’s roles

PM doles out Sok An’s roles

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at a graduation ceremony at the National Institute of Education yesterday in Phnom Penh. Facebook

PM doles out Sok An’s roles

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday distributed a suite of roles held by his late deputy Sok An among other ministers, reversing an earlier announcement by his spokesman that all the responsibilities would go to Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin.

Hun Sen chided his spokesman Phay Siphan, and journalists, for making assumptions that the diverse portfolio held by his late right-hand man would go to Chhin.

“You should not want to be famous and do not act like you know everything,” Hun Sen said, referring to both spokespeople and journalists. “Sometimes the journalist is not wrong but we give wrong information and the ill-intended persons make it widespread … in order to correct it, I now inject a vaccine to get rid of the craziness.”

Sok An, who died last week, oversaw so many committees that he was likened to a Hindu god with many arms. Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin was announced as Sok An’s successor as minister of the Council of Ministers, but the premier dismissed the suggestion – made by Siphan and circulated by local media outlets – that Chhin would adopt all of Sok An’s former duties.

One of the biggest changes signalled in reassigning the portfolios was to the Apsara Authority, which oversees the Angkorian temples, and which will now fall under the purview of Culture Minister Phoeurng Sackona.

The premier said in addition to the Apsara Authority, the Culture Ministry would also take the helm of the National Authority of Preah Vihear and the Cambodian National Commission for UNESCO.

The National Railway Committee will be handed to Transport Minister Sun Chanthol, while leadership of the Engineering Council will fall to the Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng.

The National Association of Cambodian Scouts and its budget will go to Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron, while Sok An’s roles at the Royal Academy of Cambodia and the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation will remain under the umbrella of the Council of Ministers.

Chhin will chair the government’s taskforce on the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal.

Hun Sen went on to urge the media to “be careful”, adding: “our official [Siphan] has no discipline … The boss who settles it is now here”.

The appointments would be made official by royal sub-decree in due course, he said.

The news came as a surprise to Apsara Authority spokesperson Chau Sun Kerya, who said she had no knowledge of the decision. “We know nothing at all,” Sun Kerya said. “Apsara is very, very important for Cambodia, but the Minister [of Culture] is very interested in what happens in Apsara … I don’t have any concern; if it keeps working as before, it’s no problem.”

Angkor Wat ticket sales generated more than $63 million last year. Culture Ministry spokesman Thai Norak Satya said there was already cooperation between the two bodies, but acknowledged that the ministry needed “to strengthen our capabilities, management and quality of human resources” to assume control of its new responsibilities. “I think these works will not be a big obstacle when there is willingness to do the job,” he said.

Khmer Rouge tribunal spokesman Neth Pheaktra suspected there would be “no disruption” under Chhin, adding that his key responsibilities would be to cooperate with the UN and keep government funds flowing to keep the tribunal running smoothly. Pheaktra said this would include addressing a $2.5 million budget gap for Cambodian staff salaries in the latter half of this year, though the government has already provided $4.15 million for 2017.

Sok An’s portfolio was drastically curtailed following the ruling party’s poor showing at the 2013 national election, including at the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, which was cloaked in secrecy during his rule but is now under the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

Siphan yesterday said he was not worried about the Prime Minister’s admonishment, and instead thanked him for his “instruction”. “He does not accuse me – it is just a reminder,” Siphan said. “He is the boss. I respect him so much.”

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has given the green light for anyone who contracts the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron mutation or any other variant to convalesce or receive treatment at home or in any other reasonable non-healthcare setting. The new decision supersedes a restriction on home care for

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa