The Leaderboard: Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir

Who is she?

Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir is a U.S. diplomat who served as executive assistant to the under secretary of state for political affairs from 2011 to 2015. She served as the U.S consul general in Belfast from 2009 to 2011. Prior to that posting, she worked in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs as director of the Office of Maritime Southeast Asia from 2007 to 2009 and deputy coordinator of the Taiwan coordination staff from 1998 to 2000. Some of her earlier postings include China, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia. Lakhdhir is a career foreign service officer of 25 years and holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and a master’s degree from the National War College.

Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir, (third from left), during her time as U.S. consul general in Belfast. Source: U.S. Embassy London’s flickr photostream, U.S. Government Work.

Why is she in the news?

President Barack Obama on June 16 nominated Lakhdhir to be the next U.S ambassador to Malaysia. If she is confirmed, she will replace Ambassador Joseph Yun, who has held the post since October 2013.

What can we expect from her?

If appointed, Lakhdhir will become the fourth Indian-American nominated to an ambassadorship by the Obama administration. Her previous experience in Southeast Asia and China-focused positions will no doubt provide her insight into the new job, especially as Malaysia navigates its delicate position as a claimant in the South China Sea maritime disputes. Lakhdhir is also likely to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the Malaysian government ratified in January 2016.


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