Trump victory provokes global shock and angst

People hold a cardboard cut-out of the Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump before taking pictures during an elections event at the US embassy's cultural centre in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 9, 2016.
PHOTO: Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR - Donald Trump's improbable victory in the US presidential election provoked global shock and angst on Wednesday over the implications for everything from trade to human rights and climate change.

The bombastic billionaire defeated Hillary Clinton in a result that few predicted, as millions of American voters shrugged off concerns over his temperament, lack of experience, and accusations of sexist and racist behaviour.

Trump's rise has been keenly watched abroad as he campaigned on a platform of trashing trade agreements, questioning alliances, restricting immigration and dismissing climate change.

Donald Trump wins US presidency in stunning upset

  • Donald Trump has stunned America and the world, riding a wave of populist resentment to defeat Hillary Clinton in the race to become the 45th president of the United States.
  • The Republican mogul defeated his Democratic rival, plunging global markets into turmoil and casting the long-standing global political order, which hinges on Washington's leadership, into doubt.
  • "Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division," Trump told a crowd of jubilant supporters in the early hours of Wednesday in New York.
  • "I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans." During a bitter two-year campaign that tugged at America's democratic fabric, the bombastic tycoon pledged to deport illegal immigrants, ban Muslims from the country and tear up free trade deals.
  • His message appears to have been embraced by much of America's white majority, disgruntled by the breath and scope of social change and economic change in the last eight years under their first black president, Barack Obama.
  • Trump openly courted Russian leader Vladimir Putin, called US support for NATO allies in Europe into question and suggested that South Korea and Japan should develop their own nuclear weapons.
  • The businessman turned TV star turned-politico - who has never before held elected office - will become commander-in-chief of the world's sole true superpower on January 20.
  • The results prompted a global market sell-off, with stocks plunging across Asia and Europe and billions being wiped off the value of investments.
  • Although he has no government experience and in recent years has spent as much time running beauty pageants and starring in reality television as he had building his property empire, Trump at 70 will be the oldest man to ever become president.
  • Yet, during his improbable rise, Trump has constantly proved the pundits and received political wisdom wrong.
  • Opposed by the entire senior hierarchy of his own Republican Party, he trounced more than a dozen better-funded and more experienced rivals in the party primary.
  • During the race, he was forced to ride out allegations of sexual assault and was embarrassed but apparently not shamed to have been caught on tape boasting about groping women.
  • And, unique in modern US political history, he refused to release his tax returns.
  • But the biggest upset came on Tuesday, as he swept to victory through a series of hard-fought wins in battleground states from Florida to Ohio.
  • Clinton had been widely assumed to be on course to enter the history books as the first woman to become president in America's 240-year existence.
  • Americans have repudiated her call for unity amid the United States' wide cultural and racial diversity, opting instead for a leader who insisted the country is broken and that "I alone can fix it."
  • If early results hold out, Trump's party will have full control of Congress and he will be able to appoint a ninth Supreme Court justice to a vacant seat on the bench, deciding the balance of the body.
  • So great was the shock that Clinton did not come out to her supporters' poll-watching party to concede defeat, but instead called Trump and sent her campaign chairman to insist in vain the result was too close to call.
  • "I want every person in this hall to know, and I want every person across the country who supported Hillary to know that your voices and your enthusiasm mean so much to her and to him and to all of us. We are so proud of you. And we are so proud of her," chairman John Podesta told shell-shocked supporters.
  • "She's done an amazing job, and she is not done yet," he insisted.
  • Musician Lagy Gaga stages a protest against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on a sanitation truck outside Trump Tower in New York City after midnight on election day November 9, 2016.
  • A street performer dressed as the Statue of Liberty hold photos of U.S. presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at the financial Central district in Hong Kong, China November 9, 2016, after Trump won the presidency.
  • A "Naked Cowboy" performer supporting Donald Trump walks through Times Square in New York, November 9, 2016.
  • People react as they watch news on a screen to follow the results of the final day of the US presidential election at an event organised by the American consulate in Shanghai on November 9, 2016.
  • Protesters against president-elect Donald Trump march peacefully through Oakland, California.
  • A separate group earlier in the night set fire to garbage bins and smashed multiple windows.
  • Police officers chase a group of about 50 protesters.
  • University of California, Davis students protest on campus in Davis, California.
  • An invitee places a cookie depicting U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on a table at the US presidential election results watch party at the residence of US Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, in Tokyo.

In often hushed scenes, many attendees at election-watching events around Asia expressed deep misgivings about Trump taking the reins of the world's most powerful nation and economy.

Dianita Sugiyo, 34, a university lecturer in Indonesia - the world's most populous Muslim country - said she was concerned by Trump's calls to temporarily ban Muslims from countries with histories of terrorism.

"He has always been anti-Muslim and I am afraid he will discriminate against Muslims," said Sugiyo, a member of a leading Indonesian moderate Muslim organisation.

"The United States is a multicultural country and there are a lot of Muslims there, so this is very terrifying," she added, speaking at a US embassy event in Jakarta.

The election of an opponent of free trade caused financial markets across Asia to plunge, with Tokyo's main index tumbling more than 5 per cent, while stock futures on US and European markets also fell when they opened.

"The world is globalising and if the US, which is one of the economic powerhouses, is going to put up walls, I don't see that as good for the world economy," said Clarita Carlos, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines.

"They can practically slow down economic growth for everybody. He is a businessman. He should know better." .

Trump has vowed to ditch the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, perhaps President Barack Obama's main diplomatic legacy in the region.

Tang Siew Mun, head of the ASEAN Studies Centre at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said such moves would severely damage the US in a region where China is posing a growing leadership challenge.

"For us in the region, we ask these questions: does America still stand for free trade as far as TPP is concerned? Will America stand for and engage internationally as a global leader?" he said, speaking on Channel NewsAsia.

Environmentalists also recoiled, as Trump has threatened previously to "cancel" the historic UN pact struck last year to address climate change.

"What have we become?" asked Greenpeace Southeast Asia's Executive Director Yeb Sano.

"On climate change, clearly this is a massive blow to our prospects of progress and hope that the Paris Agreement had given us." At election events around the region, American Democratic supporters gradually deflated as Trump's victory materialised, while Republicans were buoyed.

Bradley Jordan, a retired 59-year-old Californian in Bangkok, said a Trump win would "throw the whole world upside down." "It's dangerous for the planet. If Trump wins, we will do nothing about climate change and the planet will be screwed. I just can't believe this is happening right now," he said, adding he was contemplating renouncing his US citizenship.

Even some Republicans expressed surprise at Trump's win.

"To be honest we didn't really think he would win," Kym Kettler-Paddock, a US Republican, said at an election event in Hong Kong.

She said the panic over Trump would subside as he makes it known what sort of leader he would be.

"I think after that transition period (the uncertainty) would settle down," she said.

Others, however, pointed to Trump's friendly comments toward the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin as indicating America may no longer carry the torch for human rights.

"The fact that authoritarian leaders around the region find hope in the possible election of Donald Trump as president is a telling indicator of what they think his policies on human rights will be," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

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