US Ambassador reaffirms commitment to Singapore and region, as American community watches election results unfold

Some cheered, while others feared, as the results unfolded at the Conrad Centennial Singapore US election watch party.
ST VIDEO: FABIAN KOH

SINGAPORE - The United States will remain committed to Singapore and the Pacific region, regardless of which party wins the presidential election.

American Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar was speaking to the 800 guests at the US Embassy's election watch party at the Conrad Centennial Singapore on Wednesday (Nov 9).

"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.

"When we look towards the next phase of America's democracy, under the leadership of the 45th President of the United States, I am confident that America's contribution and commitment to Singapore and the region will only grow further."

Amid the party vibes, with doughnuts and balloons, were undertones of anticipation. The guests whom The Straits Times spoke to said the race was closer than anticipated, as votes were still being tallied and results streaming in.


The crowd at the American Embassy's election watch party at the Conrad Centennial Singapore. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

 

Mr Snehal Patel, 40, a healthcare entrepreneur, said: "I'm nervous and excited at the same time. Both candidates have very different directions about where the country is going."

Mr Patel, who declined to reveal the candidate he voted for, added that he is following the elections closely as the results will have implications for Americans living and working abroad.

Guests at the election watch party took photographs with standees of the two candidates, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump.

 


The crowd at the American Embassy's election watch party at the Conrad Centennial Singapore. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Most were wearing red, white and blue badges with "2016" on them, and either a donkey or elephant underneath - the symbols of the two major political parties in the US.

Five screens - one outside the ballroom and four inside - streamed live updates from American networks CNN and Fox News. An unofficial "voting booth" was also set up for guests to cast their votes for either candidates for fun, earning a "I VOTED" sticker in return.

Speaking to the media, Mr Wagar also said the Trans-Pacific Partnership is beneficial not just for the US, but for the other countries in it, and even those yet to join.

“President Obama is going to be President until January 20th,” he said.

“He is going to work until his last day there, and TPP is certainly a priority of his, as well as many people in Congress. I think there's an ample chance for many things to get voted on during the lame duck (period), and he'll work until they ask him to leave.”

The chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, Mr Dwight Hutchins, said that getting TPP passed is the “absolutely number one priority”.

“I think that we are going to have to do a lot of work on TPP, and explain how a large opportunity is in Asia, and we need to be doubling down on capturing that opportunity.”

In response to Mr Trump saying on Sunday (Nov 6) that countries in Asia, including Singapore, are taking away jobs from Americans, Mr Wagar said globalisation has actually benefitted Americans.

“Our workers get paid 18 per cent more for export-focused jobs than domestic-focused jobs. We haven't done a very good job of telling that story.”