Your Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, Governor of the State of New South Wales,
I would like to thank you for the kind touching words you addressed to me and towards Lebanon. I would also like to express my appreciation for the strength of your faith, your determination and hope that I do recognize throughout the course of your career. You have had faith in the human ability to interact with his brother in humanity, no matter the latter’s color, race, or origin, no matter his health, psychological or social situation; you had hope that this spirit of brotherhood could move societies forward towards greater solidarity, progress and well-being.
I am also very pleased on a personal level and as the President of the Republic of Lebanon, to meet with you, an Australian of Lebanese origins, as the prominent governor of one of the most important states in Australia. You raised high the reputation of the country you originated from and defended the values its represents, values which Lebanese people have passed down from generation to generation in their country and across the world wherever they spread. Furthermore, you proclaim openly and proudly your Lebanese origins and your Levantine heritage.
Indeed, you have become a role model for every woman of Lebanese or Arab origins rather for women at large, while it is important to note that rare have been those who rise up to positions of power, of leadership and success, with such unanimity as to your esteemed person, which prompted the country’s highest authorities to insist that you remain in positions of political and universitarian responsibilities you had occupied for extended and renewed mandates.
Taking pride in your achievements today, we also proudly recall how Lebanon significantly contributed to the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights through his representative at the time Dr. Charles Malik in 1948, just as Australia did through the politician, writer and jurist Herbert Vere Evatt.
In this context, I cannot but proudly evoke all the Lebanese who raised high Lebanon's reputation in the world as Diaspora figures, since the mid-nineteenth century in science, art, literature, business and free professions, from Khalil Gibran to Michael Dabaghy to Carlos Slim, all the way to the writer and novelist Amin Maalouf, who has been admitted to the venerable Académie Française as of mid-June 2012.
Dear Professor Bashir,
You were born in the year 1930 in Narrandera in the province of the New South Wales. Then you married an Australian of Lebanese origins, Sir Nicolas Chehade with whom you founded an honorable family, and you earned a degree in medicine and surgery with a specialization in psychology from the University of Sydney following in your father’s footsteps, Dr. Mikhail Bashir who studied medicine at the American University of Beirut and married your mother Victoria Malek, an Australian of Lebanese origins.
It was in 2001 that you became the state's first female governor in Australia, and the first governor of any Australian state, namely of New South Wales, of Lebanese descent.
Former Prime Minister Bob Carr described you then as one of the most competent governors in the region of New South Wales while the press noted that you would be "a powerful advocate for the powerless".
In addition to your official duties, you did not hesitate to pursue the career – rather the mission – of university teaching, education and medicine. Indeed, in 2007, you have reached one of the top academic positions as the Chancellor of the University of Sydney.
Furthermore, you have been granted many honors and decorations from Queen Elizabeth, Lebanon, France among other countries, in recognition of all your services in the fields of children and adolescents’ health care, immigrants and indigenous people, as well of your ethical commitment and your diligent efforts invested in the community service.
Therefore, in recognition of all your contributions, of raising high Lebanon’s image and that of the Lebanese Diaspora in Australia, and of your role in reinforcing the friendship and cooperation relations between Lebanon and Australia, I am pleased Madam Professor Marie Bashir, Governor of New South Wales, to award you the Lebanese National Cedar - Grand Cordon Grade.