Prime Minister Hun Sen appointed Minister of Cabinet Sok An to run Royal Air Cambodge on Tuesday, hours after a jet fuel leak prompted King Norodom Sihanouk to cancel a planned flight to Beijing and the premier fired the national airline’s two top executives.
“I am only the temporary head of Royal Air Cambodge,’’ Sok An said Wednesday, noting that RAC is under the jurisdiction of the Council of Ministers.
He did not say how long he expects to serve the position.
The prime minister signed a pair of subdecrees Tuesday removing RAC chairman Pan Chantra and his deputy, Tep Hen, from their respective posts, and naming Sok An to the top spot.
Neither Pan Chantra nor Tep Hen would comment Wednesday.
The prime minister was visibly angry Tuesday when the King’s early morning departure ceremony was disrupted by fuel gushing from the left wing of the RAC Boeing 737.
The 77-year-old monarch was helped back into the VIP terminal and ultimately decided to postpone his trip.
Pan Chantra said he tried to explain that while the fuel spill was an unfortunate mishap, the plane—which is maintained by Malaysian Airlines—was mechanically sound and the King was in no danger.
But Hun Sen, who has publicly blasted the airline in recent months for what he calls its shoddy performance and poor treatment of customers, wasted no time in removing Pan Chantra and Tep Hen from office. Sok An said Wednesday the Council of Ministers has organized a committee to investigate the spill.
(Additional reporting by Ham Samnang)