The Australian ambassador of Australia to Bhutan, Harinder Sidhu conferred the insignia of Honorary Officer within the General Division of the Order of Australia to Ashi Tashi Chodzom Dorj at a formal investiture ceremony hosted by Her Majesty Gyalyum Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck at the Chimi Gatshel Palace, Motithang on Wednesday.
Their Majesties the Queen Mothers, Their Royal Highnesses, Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay, family members and friends of Ashi Tashi Chodzom Dorji attended the ceremony.
As per the press release from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established on February 14, 1975 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia to recognize Australian citizens and other persons for personal and meritorious service. The Order consists of four levels, in both general and military divisions. Honorary awards in the Order of Australia are given to persons who are not Australian citizens.
Ashi Tashi Chodzom Dorj, the daughter Gongzim Sonam Tobgay Dorji and Sikkim Princess Rani Choeying Wangmo Dorji, was awarded the insignia for her contribution to fostering Australia-Bhutan relations, particularly in the education sector and her efforts towards opening up Bhutan to the outside world.
Ashi Tashi Chodzom Dorj laid the foundation for the growth of excellent relations between Australia and Bhutan, which today continues to be marked by excellent collaboration in the education sector.
Ashi Tashi Chodzom Dorji was instrumental in securing Bhutan’s membership to the Colombo Plan in 1962, the first International Organization that Bhutan joined. Joining the Colombo Plan was an important milestone in Bhutan’s foreign relations, which eventually led to Bhutan’s admission as a member of the United Nations in 1971.
Ashi Tashi Chodzom Dorji is the first Bhutanese national to receive the insignia of the Order of Australia.
A press release from Australian High Commission states that Ashi Tashi Chodzom Dorji was instrumental in strengthening the relations between Australia and the Royal Kingdom of Bhutan. In 1962 Ashi Tashi secured Australia’s support to include Bhutan as a member of the Colombo Plan, a centre piece of Australian foreign policy aimed at strengthening ties with Asia, by providing aid to countries in need of assistance. This was Bhutan’s first membership of any international organization.
Ashi Tashi Chodzom Dorji helped establish the Australian Government’s development program in Bhutan, which has developed into an enduring education relationship – 1,450 Bhutanese students are currently studying in Australia. She also assisted with the establishment of the Australian-Bhutan Friendship Association.
The Honorary Awards in the Order of Australia are made to persons who are not Australian citizens but have given extraordinary service to Australia or humanity at large.
Australian ambassador said that it is my great privilege to confer the Order of Australia honour to Ashi Tashi Chodzom Dorji for her immense contribution to the Australia-Bhutan relationship. This award is an indication of the respect and value that Australia places on its relationship with Bhutan.
Ambassador also added from her advocacy of Bhutan’s inclusion in the Colombo Plan in 1962, Ashi Tashi Chodzom Dorji sowed the seeds of the deep friendship between Australia and Bhutan that lasts till this day.
Tshering from Thimphu