After Sok An’s Death, Bin Chhin’s Duties Continue to Grow

The portfolio of Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin has grown again after he was handed a handful of new jobs on Tuesday, including advising the prime minister on anti-corruption efforts and overseeing the Council of Jurists and “one-window” service for foreign investors.

Mr. Chhin, a longtime confidante of Prime Minister Hun Sen, was appointed to replace Sok An as head of the Council of Ministers on March 16, the day after his predecessor died in China. He has since taken on some of Sok An’s most important roles, including heading the government taskforce on the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

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Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin, who has been appointed to replace Sok An as minister in charge of the Council of Ministers, attends his predecessor’s funeral earlier this month (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

On Tuesday, Mr. Hun Sen announced that Mr. Chhin would be taking over numerous other positions once held by Sok An.

Among those are efforts to decide on child adoption and consider requests for renouncing citizenship, leading the National Authority for Land Dispute Resolution, and helping the prime minister on the prevention of corruption, the premier said.

Mr. Chhin was also put in control of the one-window information service at the Council for the Development of Cambodia, which oversees foreign investment.

Last week, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan earned a stern rebuke from the prime minister after saying that Mr. Chhin would be taking on his predecessor’s entire portfolio. Mr. Hun Sen moved a number of bodies previously controlled by Sok An to relevant ministries, most notably placing the Apsara Authority under the purview of the Culture Ministry.

Despite being nowhere near the size of Sok An’s fiefdom—which saw him labeled “a Hindu god with 48 arms” for his control over an empire of governmental bodies—Mr. Chhin, a well-respected technocrat and negotiator within the ruling CPP, has quickly amassed one of the largest portfolios among Mr. Hun Sen’s eight deputy prime ministers.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan played down the amount of responsibility Mr. Chhin had been given.

“If we compare that with Samdech Sok An, these positions are not many. This is a move to divide duty for responsibility,” Mr. Eysan said. “This showcases that Samdech Hun Sen does not wield power alone.”

Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said it was unlikely that Mr. Chhin’s new role ostensibly helping in the fight against corruption would be received with much optimism among the general public.

“But it would be fair to leave judgment until after he has a chance to perform his new roles and duties,” he said.

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