Agriculture Minister Fired Following Past Criticism From Hun Sen

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Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon, with hands folded, visits farmers affected by flooding in Pursat province on November 4, 2020, in this photograph posted to his Facebook page.
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Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon was fired over the weekend following past criticism from the prime minister that he doesn’t cooperate well with others.

A royal decree dated Saturday removed Sakhon from his position, while a government order on the same day instated Finance Minister Aun Pornmoniroth as acting agriculture minister.

In February, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned Sakhon that “it is not difficult to remove a minister.”

At the time, the prime minister criticized Sakhon for missing a meeting with the Commerce Ministry about imports, saying the agriculture minister sends letters back-and-forth rather than talking directly.

Hun Sen was speaking on stage with Sakhon seated behind him, and questioned Sakhon’s policy of restricting foreign pork imports. Hun Sen said the policy was favoring a few local pork suppliers and increasing prices, while Sakhon said the country already had enough of a supply of meat.

“The way your excellency works could be the way of riding a horse to see flowers,” Hun Sen said, suggesting Sakhon approached the job in a leisurely way.

Sakhon had just returned from a weeklong trip to Europe about agricultural food standards. He had taken on the post of agriculture minister in 2016 in a cabinet reshuffle that promoted him from secretary of state at the Water Resources Ministry.

In 2020, the government appointed four new government ministers, as Keut Rith replaced Ang Vong Vathana as justice minister; Prum Sokha replaced Pich Bunthin as public service minister; Chea Vandeth replaced Tram Iv Tek as telecommunications minister; and Chhit Sokhon replaced Him Chhem as religion minister.

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