King Norodom Sihamoni has signed off on the apppointment of former Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon, who was removed from his position on October 8, as Minister Delegate attached to the Prime Minister.

The appointment came at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen, according to a royal decree dated October 11.

Addressing more than 2,000 students at a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh on the same day, Hun Sen said the termination of Sakhon was intended to advance the agricultural sector.

“Today, I wrote a letter to the Royal Palace requesting Veng Sakhon be appointed Minister Delegate to the Prime Minister,” he said.

“He is our blood. As a university graduate who works with us, we will not abandon him. Advancing the agriculture sector simply required more responsibility,” he added.

Responding to critics, he cited Article 20 of the Law on the Organisation and Functioning of the Council of Ministers, which states that the prime minister may request the King to remove any government member from their position by a royal decree.

“To contribute to increasing the knowledge of the opposition groups who are desperate to obtain power in their next lives, I suggest they take a look at that article. It is my intent to help them correct their ignorance. They have suggested that I have insulted them with my words, yet when they insult me, they claim their comments were innocent,” he said in a recent social media post.

Sakhon could not be reached for comment on October 11.

King Sihamoni issued a royal decree late on October 8 terminating embattled agriculture minister Veng Sakhon from his post at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen, with Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth temporarily put at the helm.

In an October 8 letter addressed to National Assembly (NA) president Heng Samrin, Hun Sen requested that the NA hold a vote of confidence for Dith Tina, currently secretary of state at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, to replace Sakhon.