The Australian Embassy to Laos on Jan 26 conferred five ’65th Anniversary Awards’ to recognize outstanding contributions to Laos- Australia relations at its National Day reception in Vientiane.
The reception, which this year also marked the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Laos and Australia, was attended by over 400 guests from the government, business community, civil society, academia and representatives of diplomatic corps.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith, who completed a Master degree at Monash University, Australia under the Australia Awards scholarship, was present at the 65th anniversary awards.
The reception also featured an exhibition of historical photographs capturing important moments in Laos-Australia relations over the past six decades including the memorable 1993 visit to Australia by the Prime Minister Khamtay Siphandone and the opening of the first Australian-built Friendship Bridge across the Mekong in 1994.
Mr Saleumxay expressed gratitude to the Australian government and people for their support for human resource development as well as social-economic development in Laos.
“The 65th Anniversary Awards intend to personalise Australia-Laos relations as well as to recognise outstanding achievements,” said Australian Ambassador to Laos John Williams.
“The real strength of Laos-Australia relations over the past 65 years is not the architecture put in place by our two governments, but the myriad of positive networks of collaboration between the people of both countries across so many areas of work and life,” said Ambassador Williams.
The 65th anniversary awards included Phu Bia Mining General Manager and AustCham Lao founder Richard Taylor, for his contribution to bilateral ties and two-way business connections; Thasano Centre Director Phoudalay Lathvilavong, for her long collaboration with Australian agricultural experts to support small holder farming families in southern Laos; and LNCCI Vice President and leading Lao geologist Saman Aneka, for his contribution to two-way trade and investment.
Mahosot Hospital Director, Prof Bounthapany Bounxoie, received an award on behalf of the entire Interplast Lao programme team. Surgical teams from Australian NGO Interplast have, for over two decades, trained local counterparts and helped deliver reconstructive and plastic surgery for burns and other accidents.
One award was conferred posthumously on the late Dr Grant Evans, a founding father in the field of Lao studies and one of Australia’s leading academics on contemporary South-East Asia.
Australia remains one of Laos’ main development partners, with Australia’s programme focusing on education and human resource development, trade and business reform, rural development, and management of agriculture and natural resources.
Source: Lao News Agency