Dith Tina, Secretary of State and spokesman for Cambodia's Ministry of Mines and Energy, has been nominated by the Prime Minister to be the next Agriculture Minister, following the dismissal of the current minister, Veng Sakhon.
In a letter dated October 8, Hun Sen requested Heng Sarin, President of the National Assembly, to prepare a voting session for Tina, who is a son of Dith Munty, president of the Supreme Court, to be the next Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries.
It was the same day that Sakhon was removed in a royal decree signed by Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni at Hun Sen’s request. In the meantime, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Aun Pornmoniroth, has been assigned as the Agriculture Minister for the time being.
In a voice message, Hun Sen requested Pornmoniroth to appoint agricultural officials to work with provincial officials as soon as possible to assess crop damage. Therefore, the government can immediately announce a measure to target regions of damaged rice, allowing people to cultivate crops again.
He said it is a crucial action to resolve the issue at the end of the season. Rice cultivation is still possible in certain regions as the water has not yet been drained. However, rice cannot be grown in some regions, although it can be done using particular seeds provided by the government, he added.
“So, I call for further cooperation between the Ministry of Agriculture, sub-national authorities, and national disaster management to work together to examine and plan for crop seed exports to the target areas,” he said. “This is the next task that needs to be done.”
Sakhon was known to be media-friendly, answered phone calls from journalists and was on a foreign trip when removed. He was earlier chastised on February 23 for failing to attend a meeting called by the Ministry of Economy and Finance to prepare the procedure for importing pigs.
Yang Saing Koma, founder of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said that the removal of a minister is a normal government procedure. However, the government should provide a public explanation for why this removal or transfer occurred, he added.
“It's difficult to say as it might entail internal matters we don't know about. But in general, the role of the Minister of Agriculture and other ministries has been weak in the past, especially in responding to the floods,” he said. “However, we want to know and have a public interpretation.”
He added that the implementation of agricultural strategic strategy should be strengthened, particularly on the national budget.
“It was a point where I felt that there were many flaws in the policy implementation of the core agricultural policy to strengthen the agricultural sector and the livelihoods of our farmers,” he said.