Canton Repository

July 26, 2001

Canton native may add ambassador to resume


WASHINGTON — Canton native Franklin L. Lavin appears headed to an easy confirmation as ambassador to Singapore.

Lavin, 43, and three other nominees for ambassador received high marks Wednesday when they appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for their confirmation hearing.

“We have four very capable, very skilled people here,” said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the committee’s East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee. The full Senate might consider Lavin’s nomination sometime this week, he added.

Lavin’s nomination to the post by President Bush is the latest stop in a whirlwind career that has taken the Ohio native from appointments in the Reagan and former Bush administrations to executive slots with major corporations that do business in the Far East.

With his wife, Ann, and two of his three children sitting in the audience, Lavin told the panel that the United States has “important and often complicated issues” to work on with Singapore. They include piracy and drug smuggling.

“It’s the busiest port in the world,” he added.

Lavin is the second person from the Canton area to be nominated by Bush to serve as ambassador. Donald J. McConnell, a career foreign service officer who grew up in Massillon, won confirmation recently as ambassador to the East African nation of Eritrea.

“I’ve worked on Asian issues for over 20 years,” Lavin told the panel. “I come before you as someone who has a solid grounding in government, a background in management and a deep respect for the men and women who staff our embassies.”

He also contributed to the GOP and President Bush’s campaign. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Lavin was recognized as a “Bush pioneer” for raising at least $100,000 in contributions for Bush. During the 1999-2000 election cycle, he or his wife also contributed $4,500 to Republicans, including $3,000 for Bush.

For the past four years, Lavin lived “off and on” in Hong Kong, where he served as a vice president for Citibank, a principal with Bank of America and, most recently, as chief executive officer of InternetMediaHouse Asia, a German-based company that invests in Internet start-ups.

Lavin, who speaks Mandarin Chinese, also served as deputy assistant secretary of East Asia and Pacific Affairs in the Commerce Department under former President Bush and in various White House and Department of State positions under Reagan.

Singapore, a former British trading colony that gained independence from nearby Malaysia in 1965, is the world’s fifth-most prosperous nation and a key stop for heroin on its way to North America, Western Europe and the Third World.