REPUBLICAN candidate Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election has left much of Asia in shock, with many observers airing concerns on the potential ramifications of his presidency.
Trump clinched 276 electoral college votes at press time, surpassing the 270 votes needed to secure the four-year term in the White House.
Despite the lack of political experience and concerns over his temperament, Trump won key states in a tight race with senator Hillary Clinton, giving credence to his manifesto of scrapping trade agreements and restricting immigration among other policies seen to be driving a wedge between the US and world at large.
Trump’s victory did not resonate well in Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim country — where 34-year-old lecturer Dianita Sugiyo lamented Trump’s proposal to temporarily restrict Muslims from countries with a history of terrorism links from entering the US.
“As a Muslim I feel very uncomfortable if Trump wins. He has always been anti-Muslim and I am afraid he will discriminate against Muslims,” said Sugiyo, as quoted by the AFP.
The lecturer, who is a member of a leading Indonesian moderate Muslim organisation, added: “The United States is a multicultural country and there are a lot of Muslims there, so this is very terrifying.”
Share benchmarks tumbled across Asia after Donald Trump gained the lead in electoral votes, with 137 to Hillary Clinton’s 104 as of 9:30 p.m. EST (0230 GMT). Markets had opened solidly higher but quickly shed those gains, reflecting investor concern over what a Trump presidency might mean for the economy and trade.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index dropped 2.4 percent to 16,777.85 as the U.S. dollar sank against the Japanese yen, a trend that would be unfavorable to exporters. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng plunged 1.7 percent to 22,514.70.
South Korea’s Kospi index fell 1.4 percent to 1,976.49 and Australia’s S&P ASX/200 lost 1.2 percent to 5,196.70.
Earlier, investors had appeared convinced that Hillary Clinton would win the presidency. Clinton is viewed as a more stable option who might maintain current policies.
Every single market in Asia is down. The Nikkei which is most sensitive to world trading is down just over 5%
— Debi Edward (@debiedwarditv) November 9, 2016
In currency trading, the U.S. dollar was trading at 102.60 yen down from a high earlier in the session of 105.46. The euro was at $1.1142, up from its previous close of $1.1020.
Clarita Carlos, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, told the AFP that Trump’s tirades against global free trade were alarming.
“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,” she was quoted as saying.
“They can practically slow down economic growth for everybody. He is a businessman. He should know better.”
The AFP also quoted Yeb Sano, Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s Executive Director, as saying that he found Trump’s victory baffling as the billionaire businessman had threatened to scrap historic UN pact struck last year to address climate change.
“In the context of a lot of other things happening around the world right now, it would be fair to ask: “What have we become?” he said.
“On climate change, clearly this is a massive blow to our prospects of progress and hope that the Paris Agreement had given us.”
Additional reporting from the Associated Press