Carnival mood at watch party turns tense as Trump pulls ahead

Some cheered, while others feared, as the results unfolded at the Conrad Centennial Singapore US election watch party.

The flags, balloons and doughnuts made it feel almost carnival-like inside the ballroom at Conrad Centennial Singapore yesterday.

The presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were also there - as standees - at the election results watch party organised by the US Embassy here. Most of the 800 or so guests wore badges emblazoned with a donkey or elephant - symbols of the Democrats and Republicans respectively.

Some milled around chatting, while others took pictures with the standees. Nearly half of them cast mock ballots into an unofficial "voting booth". At noon, the vote count was 330 for Mrs Clinton and 29 for Mr Trump. But this was a far cry from the results flashing on five screens - one outside and four inside the ballroom - which were streaming live updates on US elections from CNN and Fox News.

Healthcare entrepreneur Snehal Patel, 40, said he was "nervous and excited at the same time". Declining to reveal who he voted for, he said he followed the elections closely as the results would have implications for Americans living and working abroad like himself.

For hours, guests fixed their eyes firmly on the screens. When it became apparent Mr Trump would likely triumph, some hid their faces in their hands.

Guests at the US election results watch party yesterday reacting to live updates of the polls showing Mr Trump was pulling ahead and likely to win. US Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar said at the start of the party that America will remain committe
Guests at the US election results watch party yesterday reacting to live updates of the polls showing Mr Trump was pulling ahead and likely to win. US Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar said at the start of the party that America will remain committed to Singapore and the Pacific, regardless of the results of the US presidential polls. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

 

Lawyer Melinda Bush, a lawyer in her 40s from Maryland, said she identifies as Republican, but "supports Clinton for the good of the country". She was disappointed Mr Trump could win despite his "divisive language", but said she had faith in checks and balances that would prevent him from doing "anything that contravenes the Constitution".

In a speech at the start of the party, US Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar said America will remain committed to Singapore and the Pacific, regardless of the results of the US presidential polls.

"In the 50 years of our diplomatic relations with Singapore, the United States has had five Republican and four Democratic presidents, but our relationship has remained strong and positive throughout," he said.

Speaking to reporters around noon, when Mr Trump was in the lead, he expressed optimism that the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), of which Singapore is a signatory, would still have a chance of being passed in the US. Mr Trump had said he would tear up the pact if he became US president.

Mr Wagar noted that President Barack Obama, who had championed the TPP, will remain in office until Jan 20 and things could still "get voted on" from now to then.

Mr Dwight Hutchins, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, told reporters getting the TPP passed is the "absolutely No. 1 priority".

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline 'Carnival mood at watch party turns tense as Trump pulls ahead'. Print Edition | Subscribe