On March 16, Prime Minister Hun Sen requested a reshuffling of his cabinet in a lead-up to the 2018 general elections. Mr. Hun Sen has publicly stated that “what is most needed now are more proactive, effective and strong ministries that have fresh ideas, energy and determination”. As such, the changes submitted for approval to the CPP-majority National Assembly is expected to increase the efficiency of public services and unite the ruling party. Parliament is due to vote on April 4 on the list of newly proposed ministers. Mr. Hun Sen’s proposal is expected to pass through easily in a CPP-dominated National Assembly.
Some highlights in the proposed changes to the current Cabinet are as follows:
- Hor Namhong, the long-serving foreign minister, will remain in a largely ceremonial role as Deputy Prime Minister and be replaced by Prak Sokhon, the current posts and telecommunications minister.
- Tram Iv Tek, the outgoing Minister of Public Works and Transport, will take Mr. Sokhon’s job at the Posts and Telecommunications Ministry.
- Sun Chanthol, the commerce minister, will oversee the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation.
- Pan Sorasak, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce will be promoted to Minister.
- Cults and Religion Minister Min Khin will switch positions with Him Chhem, a senior minister in charge of special missions.
- Head of Land Management and Urban Planning Im Chhun Lim is the only other portfolio-holding minister to retire from the administration “at his own request”.
- Chhun Lim will be replaced by current Minister for Rural Development Chea Sophara, who will be replaced by Ouk Rabun, current Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), which, in turn, will be taken over by Veng Sakhon, a secretary of state from the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology.
- Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon, a former finance minister, will retire from the cabinet.
There will also be 11 new secretaries of state, including Im Suosdey, former head of the National Election Committee, who will work at the Interior Ministry.
The changes will bring Sun Chanthol, a rising star in Cambodia, into another ministry where his expertise at reorganization will be valuable. He previously served as Transport Minister from 2004 to 2008, and is expected to focus on making infrastructure improvements that will improve safety and attract more foreign investment. The changes will also see some long-time stalwarts in Cambodian politics fade from the scene, as Keat Chhon retires after 24 years in politics and Hor Namhung steps back from foreign affairs after 18 years of service.