US envoy to Singapore Kirk Wagar among 80 diplomats to lose jobs under Trump

US envoy to Singapore Kirk Wagar among 80 diplomats to lose jobs under Trump
PHOTO: Facebook / US Embassy Singapore

It appears that spending nearly four years in Singapore has left a deep impression on former United States Ambassador Kirk Wagar.

Mr Wagar vacated his post and left the the city-state last week just hours before US President Donald Trump was inaugurated. He was among 80 envoys who have been shown the door, after the new president's decision that all politically-appointed ambassadors leave their posts by noon on Jan 20.

Prior to his departure, Mr Wagar and his wife Crystal recorded a video message in which he paid a heartfelt tribute to Singapore.

"I just want to thank you. Thank you that you've opened your homes, you've opened your hearts, and taken the time to teach not just me, but all of the American community here, a little bit more about the special sauce that makes Singapore what it is," he said.

on Facebook

As U.S. Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar wraps up his term as Ambassador on January 20 and returns to the United...

Posted by U.S. Embassy Singapore on Thursday, 19 January 2017

In a Facebook post on Jan 20, Mr Trump's inauguration day, the US Embassy Singapore also shared a Facebook post showing photos of the Wagars' departure, with Mr Wagar clad in an 'Obama' T-shirt.

on Facebook

We bid a fond farewell to Ambassador and Mrs. Wagar and their daughters as they departed Singapore today. Please join us in wishing them bon voyage and all the best in their future endeavors!

Posted by U.S. Embassy Singapore on Thursday, 19 January 2017

Mr Wagar was first named to the post in 2013, and is credited with helping to make possible the State Dinner that President Barack Obama hosted for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last year.

He was in Singapore when a number of notable local events took place, including the deaths of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and former president S R Nathan, as well as 2015's General Election.

During his time here, Mr Wagar also developed a taste for local fare. In 2014, the ambassador and his wife were wowed after trying bak kut teh for the first time. More recently, he waxed lyrical about local seafood. "It blew my mind. This was some of the best food I had eaten," he said.

Read also: Departing US ambassador Wagar says Singapore seafood is 'mindblowing'

According to The Straits Times, the US has two types of ambassadors - career diplomats and political appointees, who are trusted confidants the US president and who are sent to critical posts.

Mr Wagar, who is close to President Obama and helped him win the state of Florida in previous presidential elections, is a political appointee.

By contrast, US ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir, who had only assumed office earlier in January, is a career diplomat and has not been fired by Mr Trump, The Star reported.

British newspaper The Independent noted that while it is common policy for politically-appointed ambassadors to resign at the start of a new administration, it is less common to have no replacements in line.

The US embassy Singapore is now headed by Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, who is Charge d'Affaires, ad interim, according to the embassy's website.

seanyap@sph.com.sg

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