Senate confirms lawyer as US envoy to S’pore

THE United States Senate has confirmed the appointment of Washington corporate lawyer Timothy Chorba as US ambassador to Singapore.

Mr Chorba, 48, a partner in the law firm of Patton, Boggs and Blow, has spent 20 years as an international corporate lawyer and has no diplomatic experience.

The Senate, in a hearing on Wednesday night, also confirmed two other ambassadorial appointments – veteran diplomat Frank Wisner as ambassador to India, and Mr Joseph Paolino of Rhodes Island as ambassador to Malta.

A State Department official told The Straits Times yesterday that Mr Chorba appeared before the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations sub-committee on East Asia, Democrat Senator Charles Robb. No other senators were present.

About 100 other people were at the hearing, including 25 journalists, among them the New York Times columnist William Safire who wrote several anti-Singapore articles following the caning sentence on American teenage vandal Michael Fay.

A staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations sub-committee on East Asia, Mr Peter Cleaveland, said that no voting was involved and the new envoy would be sworn in “shortly”.

A former Legislative Counsel to US Congressman Jonathan Bingham, Mr Chorba was a classmate of US President Bill Clinton. Both studied at Georgetown University in 1968.

Fluent in German and conversational French, Mr Chorba was a Fulbright scholar in international law and international relations at the Heidelberg University in Germany from 1968 to 1969.

He also graduated from Harvard Law School in 1972.

He takes over from the previous US ambassador in Singapore, Mr Jon Huntsman Jr, who left Singapore in June last year after serving nine months as envoy.

Mr Chorba, a native of New York City, is married with three young sons.

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