Australia’s Ambassador to Bhutan, Ms Harinder Sidhu, yesterday invested Ashi Tashi Chodzom Dorji, as an Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia (OA) in the General Division.
Her Majesty The Royal Grandmother Kesang Choeden Wangchuck hosted the ceremony in the Chimi Gatshel palace with Their Majesties the Queen Mothers, Their Royal Highnesses and Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay as special guests.
“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,” said Ms Sidhu.
Ashi Tashi 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 centrrepiece 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 organisation.
“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,” added Ms Sidhu.
Ashi Tashi 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. Ashi Tashi is the first Bhutanese to receive this award.