From the South to South Pacific

UGA alumnus and former state senator explores new territory as ambassador to Singapore

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David Adelman. Special photo

 On April 2, former Georgia State Senator David Adelman (ABJ ’89), moved his family from their DeKalb County home to Singapore, a tiny southeast Asian country with a big economy.

The move was business related. The U.S. Senate recently confirmed Adelman as the newest ambassador to Singapore.

“It’s a great post,” he says. “To me, there is no greater honor than to represent our country in another country. Asia is an increasingly important part of the world and Singapore is one of the most important places in Asia. It was my first choice. You don’t always get your first choice in life.”

Adelman, who delivered the keynote address at UGA’s summer commencement, has been active in politics since 2002, when he was first elected as a Democratic state senator from the 42nd district. Serving for eight years under the gold-plated dome of the Georgia Capitol, Adelman built a reputation for hard work and cross-party collaboration—skills he hopes to rely on during his diplomatic turn in the South Pacific.

“I feel as though for the United States, Southeast Asia is going to be critical for our future prosperity and security, and Singapore is what everyone sees as the center of Southeast Asia,” he says. “I wanted to be somewhere where the mission presented a lot of challenges, but great opportunities for success. There are opportunities to make real progress in our friendships with Asia, and our friendship with Singapore can lead the way. I see it as our anchor in this part of the world.”

Although it’s a country of only 5 million, Singapore boasts one of the world’s most robust economies. It stands out as a business hub even within Asia’s bustling economic climate. It’s also an island nation with a strategic location between the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia.

Those two realities combine to make Adelman’s job hinge on both the public and private sectors.

“The two critical elements to our relationship with Singapore are security and trade,” he says. “We have very important strategic naval operations here in Singapore, and an excellent military-to-military relationship, so I spend time on security issues. Secondly, this is a country where business is king. So I’m spending a lot of my time working with both American and Asian businesses trying to strengthen the trade and commerce connection between the U.S. and Singapore. I promote American goods and services in Asia, but I’m also looking for direct foreign investment in the United States.”

Like the U.S., Singapore is a former British colony, and its national language is English. So when Adelman moved with his wife, Caroline (ABJ ’88), their three kids and two dogs, the transition felt easy, he said.

“There are more than 20,000 U.S. expats here. There’s an even larger community of British expats, Australian expats. And it’s quite safe,” he says. “Singaporeans have a very favorable view of Americans. It’s a very easy transition of ambassador. Home for us will always be Georgia, but we’re settled here and hard at work.”

About the Author

—Matt Weeks is a senior reporter for the UGA News Service.