Ambassador's term brief, yet notable

Jon M. Huntsman Jr., 33, has had a brief yet notable term as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Singapore. He presented his credentials to Singapore Pres. Wee Kim Wee on Sept. 21, 1992; he will "retire" from his post on June 15.

While his term in Singapore has been brief, it was longer than might have been expected. Ambassadors are political appointments, and most ambassadors nominated by Republican President George Bush received notice earlier this year from Democrat President Bill Clinton that their appointments were being recalled. Ambassador Huntsman's term was extended beyond the termination dates of most other envoys who were appointed during the Republican administration.Ambassador Huntsman, who served as a missionary in Taiwan from 1979-81, impressed Singapore news reporters when he spoke in Mandarin at his first press conference as ambassador. While he is the 10th U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, he is the first who has spoken a Chinese language, one newspaper reported. ". . . He handled several questions in Mandarin - apparently with some aplomb," one English-language newspaper reported last September when he first took his post. "But his language skill . . . isn't the only remarkable thing about him. At 32, he is the youngest U.S. Ambassador to the Republic."

The ambassador came to his post well acquainted with Asia and the Pacific Rim. In addition to insights he gained while serving as a missionary in Taiwan are those he acquired in government service.

From February 1989 to July 1991, he served in the Bush Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce in the International Trade Administration, and later as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. He was the senior official responsible for U.S. commercial relations with more than 30 countries of the Pacific Rim region.

He represented the United States in trade and investment negotiations, directed U.S. government programs to facilitate the expansion of U.S. business in Asia and chaired working groups of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade. He was also the Executive Secretary of the U.S.-Thailand Joint Commercial Commission, chairman of the U.S.-Mongolia Trade Facilitation Working Group and Executive Secretary of the U.S. Pacific Island Joint Commercial Commission.

Ambassador Huntsman also served as an intern to a U.S. senator, as a special assistant to the chairman of the Republican National Committee and as a White House staff assistant to President Ronald Reagan. When President Reagan went to China in 1984, Jon Huntsman Jr., then just 23, played a key role in coordinating worldwide media coverage of the visit.

Ambassador Huntsman became acquainted as a youngster with the fast-paced environment of the presidential office. His father, Jon M. Huntsman Sr., was a staff secretary to President Richard Nixon. "I used to go with my mother nearly every day to pick up my father from work," the younger Huntsman once recalled. "I used to roam the White House grounds; I guess that's when I first gained a real affection for that type environment. . . .

"I've always been fascinated with government service in general. I've always been taught that it's a very worthwhile cause to serve your Church and your country."

Before being nominated Ambassador to Singapore, he was senior vice president and general manager of the International Division of Huntsman Chemical Corporation of Salt Lake City. In that capacity, he led the company's efforts in negotiating joint ventures and licensing technology throughout the world.

Ambassador Huntsman plans to return to Salt Lake City with his wife, the former Mary Kaye Cooper, and their five children when he leaves his post in Singapore. - Gerry Avant

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