June 23, 2010 15:42 Age: 4 yrs

Adelman 89L Ambassador to Singapore

By: Wendy R. Cromwell

Business is top agenda item for new diplomat in Southeast Asia

U.S. Ambassador David Adelman 89L (left) presents his credentials to Singapore President S R Nathan on April 29.

No two days are alike, says David Adelman 89L, U.S. ambassador to Singapore.

“There is not as much ceremony as people think,” Adelman says. “Rather the workdays are long and intense with a broad range of issues. We are at the center of an increasingly important part of the world. Singapore is a very sophisticated business market and our commercial work is quite complex.”

Adelman and his family arrived in Singapore in early April after he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 19. He was nominated by President Obama on Nov. 20.

“I know it is fashionable to complain about the U.S. Senate confirmation process, but mine was a very positive experience,” Adelman says. “Both U.S. Senators from Georgia were very supportive of my candidacy. Sen. (Johnny) Isakson, who is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, was especially helpful.”

As ambassador to Singapore, Adelman serves as the president’s personal representative and has authority over all U.S. government activities there. Because Singapore is the business capital of Southeast Asia and central to U.S. trade, business is Adelman’s top agenda item.

“We have a very successful Free Trade Agreement with Singapore, which is home to the world’s busiest container port and the U.S. commercial interests in the region are very often based here,” Adelman says. “In January in his State of the Union address, the president announced what has become the National Export Initiative, which established as its goal doubling American exports over the next five years.

“My goal is to strengthen the U.S.-Singapore relationship and our relationships throughout Asia through commercial diplomacy.”

Singapore, an island city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, has a diverse population of about 5 million, of which 42 percent are foreigners. Hundreds of U.S. Navy vessels visit Singapore every year. More than 20,000 Amercian expatriots live there. Thousands of American businesses have a presence in Singapore.

As for the weather, “Singapore is approximately 50 miles north of the Equator,” Adelman says. “It is a tropical climate. Think July in Atlanta but with more of a breeze and water everywhere. We love it.

“We live in a home owned by the United States, which is not far from the embassy,” Adelman says. “The main floor is for representational events. The second floor is a lot like a typical American home.

“Caroline, our three children and I are very happy and have settled in quite easily,” the ambassador says. “Our two dogs made the trip here. The children are in the Singapore American School. The school is large with more than 3,000 students in k through 12, most of whom are U.S. citizens.”

Adelman credits his Emory Law training with teaching him to be a better analytical thinker and instilling in him the value of thorough preparation.

Serving at the pleasure of the president, Adelman resigned his partnership at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP, where he was a member of the commercial litigation group.

Adelman also served eight years in the Georgia Senate, where he represented the Emory community. As a state senator, he was known as a moderate who often crossed the partisan aisle to build consensus.

“There is no greater privilege than to represent our country in another country,” he says. “I’m honored by the confidence President Obama and Secretary [Hillary Rodham] Clinton have in me. We will miss our family and friends, including my colleagues at Sutherland and in the Georgia Senate very much.”

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