US nominee wants greater openness in Singapore


The nominee to be the US ambassador to Singapore said Tuesday he would encourage the government to allow greater openness, including more space for opposition parties.

David Adelman, a state senator in Georgia and fund-raiser for President Barack Obama, praised Singapore as a “constructive force in the world” and pointed to its efforts in Haiti and Afghanistan.

“The continued partnership between our two countries serves as a solid anchor for our successful engagement with all of Asia,” he testified at his Senate confirmation hearing.

But under questioning by Virginia Senator Jim Webb, Adelman said he would also engage with Singapore to encourage democratic reforms.

“Make no mistake, currently Singapore is not a multi-party democracy,” he said.

“I intend, if confirmed, to use public diplomacy to work towards greater press freedoms, greater freedom of assembly and ultimately more political space for opposition parties in Singapore,” he said.

The People’s Action Party has been in power since 1959. It says its tough laws against dissent are necessary to ensure the stability that has helped Singapore become one of the wealthiest countries in Asia.

Adelman, who would be taking his first job in foreign affairs, said he supported Obama largely out of hope that he could “reinvigorate” US relationships overseas after George W. Bush’s presidency.

Adelman chaired Obama’s presidential campaign in Georgia, playing a key role in his record-breaking fund-raising.

As a state legislator, Adelman has been active in initiatives against domestic violence and spearheaded a law prohibiting state contracts to companies seen as benefiting from the bloodshed in Sudan’s Darfur region.

A lawyer, Adelman represented presidential contender Al Gore in his legal battles against eventual winner George W. Bush in the 2000 race.

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