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Former Transparency Advocate Preap Kol Joins Government, Gets Shy about Title

PHNOM PENH: Newly appointed Minister Delegate attached to the Prime Minister Preap Kol said that he felt embarrassed when the public started to call him "His Excellency". He asked that people not to call him by his title when meeting him in public.

Former Executive Director of Transparency International Cambodia, Preap Kol, was appointed by the King as the Minister Delegate to the Prime Minister on May 13, 2023, after he spent about four hours in talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen. Speaking at a press conference on the morning of May 16, Preap Kol said that his meeting with the Prime Minister gave him confidence that the PM would support his work in organizing governance reform and foreign relations.

"After meeting with the Prime Minister for more than four hours, I am confident and hope that the Prime Minister will support me so that I can do my work effectively. I hope that preparations [for reform] will begin in the next term of the new government," he said.

He stated that the timing of his joining the government is not politically motivated, but that he is a purely technical official who will help organize the financial and administrative management system in state institutions. He said the system he will help build will facilitate a smooth transition of political leadership.

His acceptance of a government role comes at a time when the Prime Minister is openly campaigning for new members to join his party. Preap Kol said that he joined not because of the PM’s announcement, but rather because the time is right for him.

He noted that after he resigned as the Executive Director of Transparency Cambodia in 2019, he went into business, which grew steadily and produced enough income to where he had two options: retire or help the government.

He said, "If we do not have a decent economic situation, the household economy suffers and is expected to live on a state salary. Imagine that for a second. I know that now is the right time, because the next term I have enough time to help the government continue to reform and help develop the nation for the benefit of our people."

After the news broke that he would be joining the government, Preap Kol received criticism from opposition groups and his supporters. He believes they are disappointed that he is not catering to their political tendencies. He asked the public to respect the decision of each person, because it is a personal right based in democratic principle and to avoid accusations that prevent Cambodia from being a politically mature country.

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