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U.S. Ambassador to Singapore faces criticism for misconduct and poor performance

Jonathan Kaplan, U.S. Ambassador to Singapore criticized for misconduct and poor performance in a watchdog report, highlighting threats of reprisal and strained relations with local ministries.



In a revealing internal watchdog report published on 1 March, the State Department’s inspector general highlighted numerous issues with the conduct and performance of Jonathan Kaplan, the U.S. Ambassador to Singapore.

Appointed in late 2021, Kaplan, a significant Democratic campaign donor and entrepreneur without prior governmental experience, has come under scrutiny for his management style and effectiveness in promoting U.S. interests in the strategically vital Asia-Pacific nation.

Embassy staff reported a culture of fear and retaliation under Kaplan’s leadership, with allegations of threats of reprisal.

Moreover, the ambassador’s poor relationships with some Singaporean ministries were found to impede progress on U.S. efforts in the region, a critical concern given Singapore’s pivotal role in global supply chains, finance, and as a balance between U.S. and China superpower interests.

The report casts a spotlight on the broader practice of appointing campaign donors to ambassadorial positions, questioning the merit and implications of such decisions. Kaplan, who invented the Flip Video camera and has a background in fast-casual dining ventures, donated over $100,000 to Democratic campaigns in the decade before his nomination.

Kaplan has taken “full responsibility” for addressing the report’s findings and recommendations, which include further investigation into his conduct.

The White House and State Department have expressed their seriousness in handling the matter, emphasizing the importance of leadership, dignity, and respect in representing the United States abroad.

Significant findings from the inspector general include unapproved expenditure totaling US$9,900, US$48,000 in unresolved travel vouchers, and strained relationships with Singaporean officials that hindered U.S. strategic goals.

The embassy’s diversion of resources to Kaplan’s projects, often seen as unattainable, and the neglect of core duties was also criticized.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) made 23 recommendations: 21 to Embassy Singapore, 1 to the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and 1 to the Bureau of Information Resource Management.

In response, the embassy has concurred with the majority of the inspector general’s 23 recommendations, which aim to improve financial management, leadership practices, security protocols, and public diplomacy efforts. Actions taken include processing outstanding travel vouchers, reassessing leadership compliance, and implementing standard operating procedures across various embassy functions.

OIG considers all 23 recommendations resolved.

Kaplan’s tenure has been marked by his informal style, which has drawn attention during formal occasions and meetings with high-ranking officials and foreign leaders. This approach, along with the significant gap in ambassadorial presence prior to his appointment, underscores the challenges and complexities of diplomatic representation in a rapidly evolving international landscape.

The State Department and the Singapore embassy are now focused on addressing the issues identified, with a commitment to enhancing U.S. diplomacy and relations in Singapore and the broader Asia-Pacific region.

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The fact that US placed someone without prior governmental experience as ambassador signified that sg is not as important a country to the US as what sg gov had boasted.

Hes been a naughty boy by not playing by PAP’s rules and being outspoken..
How can? In Fantasy Island everyone must do as being told…no matter who u are…hahaha😂🤣😅😆😁