US envoy bowing out - with satisfaction

US envoy bowing out - with satisfaction
American ambassador David Adelman, 49.

SINGAPORE - Sitting on the verandah of his sumptuous villa near Holland Village, comfortably clad in a cotton shirt and khakis held up by a golfer's belt over leather loafers, Mr David Adelman looks out on tropical vegetation as he expresses satisfaction over his 31/2 year stint as the American envoy.

Not far from his home is Ford Avenue, a reminder of an early American manufacturing presence on the island. Later came big names like Hewlett-Packard, DuPont and Seagate Technology, which not only boosted Singapore's status as an advanced manufacturing centre but also helped spawn home-grown managerial legends like Mr Koh Boon Hwee.

The flood of investments has not ebbed. Indeed, 49-year-old Mr Adelman's diary has been chock-full of appearances at plant openings and extensions as companies spanning pharmaceuticals to aerospace establish manufacturing and research facilities on the island.

At home, the American economic revival is on track. For those in Asia who worry that United States budget deficits will prevent a full strategic pivot or re-balancing towards the region, here is news, he says: The deficit is shrinking.

It is a good time to bow out. As he ends his tenure, Singapore, he notes with satisfaction, is America's most favoured investment spot in all Asia.

A political appointee, Mr Adelman explains why he was an early backer of then senator Barack Obama's presidential ambitions. "I believed in the run up to elections that America's hard-earned goodwill around the world had diminished and that it was important in 2008 that we elect someone who would restore that goodwill," he says. "I believed Barack Obama would be the person. I also thought it was time my generation should lead the country. We were close in age. His two children are close in age to my three."

Has America's first black president lived up to the promise?

Mr Adelman ponders the question. He notes that the 44th president came to office at a time of great economic challenge and kept his word on winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden was eliminated in 2011. The economy is strengthening. American businesses have shed a lot of their debt. Families are de-leveraged as well.

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