In Singapore, many Americans just want to move on

 Crowd at Raffles Place in the Central Business District.
Crowd at Raffles Place in the Central Business District. PHOTO: ST FILE

Days after the election that propelled tycoon Donald Trump to the most powerful perch in the world, an American expatriate enclave in Woodlands remains in shock.

Residents of Woodgrove, a landed estate near Singapore American School, are not in the mood to talk.

Housewife Laura Zubrod, 45, says the community is just relieved that the election is over.

"Actually, it hasn't come up in any conversations. I think we are all tired of the topic."

It is a far cry from the days prior to last Wednesday, when the election was a hot subject of discussion in the community.

The residents - mainly highly mobile talent living and working in Asia - are by and large beneficiaries of the same globalisation forces that have been blamed by some back home for taking away their jobs.

Angry voters - older, poorer and generally white - in middle America chose Mr Trump, who had threatened to scupper a free trade pact and trigger a trade war with China.

Unsurprisingly, many of the Woodgrove residents interviewed voted for Mrs Hillary Clinton, who was viewed as someone who would maintain the status quo. No one expected her to lose, even the few who did choose Mr Trump.

Some fear Mr Trump would lead the United States into an unclear and worrying future.

At least one has contemplated staying in Singapore for the long term to escape the uncertainty back home. The housewife, who did not give her name, suggested that her family may take up permanent residency here.

"I was in tears when he won," she said. "My initial thoughts were, what have we done? How do I explain to my kids that we have elected a bigot and a racist as our president?"

Others acknowledge that it is an awkward situation.

When asked what can be done to mitigate the anger of fellow Americans who feel they are the losers in the current economic order, a few said they are not comfortable talking about it.

Many just want to move on.

Said private chef Felicia Janecek, 47: "All we can do now is to rally together and give him a chance to move our country forward.

"Four years goes by quickly, so if he doesn't make a big impact, he will be out of there."

One resident voted for Mr Trump, despite being a minority voter. The South Indian immigrant, who got his US citizenship after 23 years, is a silent supporter of the Republican.

The 40-year-old, who would not give his name for "fear of being ostracised and socially bullied", did so for reasons like rising healthcare costs and falling education levels.

"Friends assumed I voted Democrat, so they reached out to me with an outpouring of grief after the results," he said. "Some were US citizens scared they were going to be deported. Some had gotten their Canadian passports out."

When he told them who he voted for, "their wrath poured out on me". "They wouldn't return my calls; they 'unfriended' me on Facebook," he added.

The senior executive at a multinational corporation admitted Mr Trump is not an ideal president and has much to learn. "I deplore his arrogance, many of his past actions, and many things he has said.

"But because this is America, there are checks and balances. There is a method to the madness."

Some residents remain quietly optimistic. Housewife Monica Moritz, 47, who voted for Mrs Clinton, said the people have exercised the right to vote and have to accept the results. "Once his administration takes over, America will settle and business will start booming again.

"Don't forget, Americans only play to win."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 13, 2016, with the headline 'In Singapore, many Americans just want to move on'. Print Edition | Subscribe