Bhutan’s ‘Apa Kinley’ selected as Secretary General of Colombo Plan

Kinley Dorji, 61, popularly known as ‘Apa Kinley’ beat candidates from many countries to be selected as Bhutan’s first ever Secretary General of the Colombo Plan.

The Colombo Plan is the first international developmental organization which Bhutan joined in 1962, and which played an important role in Bhutan’s development process, especially in health, education and agriculture sectors. Bhutan’s membership in the organization also strengthened its sovereign position.

Kinley Dorji was serving as the Executive Director of the Youth Development Fund, after his stint in the 2013 General Elections where he lost as the PDP candidate from Trashigang. He has also served as the Director of the Department of Human Resources under the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources.

He was also the Executive Director of the Bhutan Narcotics Control Agency where he had the task of implementing the Tobacco agencies.

While Kinley Dorji was selected by the Colombo Plan based on merit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs actively backed his candidature by first nominating him and then lobbying to get through the process.

The Foreign Minister, Rinzin Dorji, said, “We are very proud that for the first time a Bhutanese has become the Secretary General of the Colombo Plan, especially as there were also other countries vying for the post.”

He said that the main credit should go to Kinley Dorji even though the Foreign Ministry supported his candidature. He said that Bhutanese diplomats and foreign ministry officials lobbied for Kinley Dorji whenever they went for meetings. The minister said that it would be good for Bhutan that a Bhutanese was now holding the prestigious post.

Kinley Dorji will be taking office on May 2014 for a term of four years.

“I definitely feel very nice about getting such a rare opportunity, but it is not my achievement alone, but it is a collective achievement,” Kinley Dorji said.

He added that if it was not for the kindness of His Majesty the Third King, he would not have been among the first group of students in Sherubtse. He also expressed his gratitude for being given an opportunity to serve under His Majesty the Fourth King and His Majesty the King and said he could get this opportunity due to all the grooming he received under the Royal Government of Bhutan.

He also offered a special thank you to Her Majesty the Queen Mother Tshering Pem Wangchuck for hiring him in YDF after the elections when he had no job and he said the position opened a new chapter in his life.

Kinley Dorji was one among many applicants from member countries who had to first submit their roadmap for the Colombo Plan. He was among the six shortlisted and called for the interview by a multi-national panel.

What helped Kinley Dorji was his extensive background in Drugs and Narcotics, literally setting up the office and prior to that, in laying the foundations for the Department of Youth and Sports.

In his four-page plan, Kinley listed out his plans to strengthen the existing Colombo Plan programs, enhance networking and collaboration among member states, establishing sub-regional offices to reach out to regions, sharing of human and technical resources, and some ideas on fund raising.

The Colombo Plan was established in 1951 as an organization to aid in financial and technical aid to member countries.

Kinley said that currently the Colombo Plan has only one regional office in Colombo, but he wanted to establish more sub regional offices. Kinley will head the day-to-day operations of the Colombo Plan Secretariat.

He said that Colombo Plan was looking at four broad areas, which are public administration and environment, private sector development, scholarship programs and women and children’s issue including reducing the demand for drugs.

Kinley said that Bhutan can benefit from his appointment as, apart from the image of the country being enhanced, he will also serve as the goodwill ambassador for Bhutan in the high profile job. He said he will be in a position to help around 200 or so Bhutanese studying under Colombo Plan scholarships. He said he can also help in the capacity building programs and encourage exchange programs.

The position comes with a 5,000 USD salary per month which is not taxable apart from other residential and health benefits.

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