Divided on whom to pick as their next president

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump looks on during the final presidential debate on Oct 19, 2016.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump looks on during the final presidential debate on Oct 19, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Whether it is Republican nominee Donald Trump or his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, many Americans living in Singapore are split when it comes to picking their next president.

Mr Dian Boothe, a multinational corporation's legal counsel who has been living here since 2006, said: "Trump, a totally unqualified candidate has secured his party's nomination by appealing to the worst of the extreme right of the Republican Party. He has taken advantage of their racism, xenophobia and their fears of things non-American."

Mr Boothe noted that Mrs Clinton is a far-from-perfect candidate but "she is light years ahead of Trump in temperament and experience".

"Her biggest problem is that she is not a natural campaigner and that for the last 30 years, she has been falsely maligned and demeaned by her opponents," he said. "As a result, many people feel they cannot trust her."

According to the United States Embassy in Singapore, there are more than 25,000 US citizens living, working or studying here. However, it does not have estimates on how many of them are eligible to vote or have cast their ballots from abroad.

Mrs Tina Datta, chairman of the Republicans Overseas Singapore, said this election is "proving more challenging due to the incredible democracy we are witnessing".

The 48-year-old, a chief marketing officer who has been living in Singapore since 2010, said: "I do think Americans living here will vote along party lines but you may see people being more pensive about discussing their choice."

Mr Lance DuBos, 54, a member of Democrats Abroad, an organisation based in Washington, DC, which assists Americans overseas in voting, said: "I think that much like Americans back home, those living here in Singapore are split."

The adjunct assistant professor, who has resided here for more than 20 years, said: "I haven't had any heated discussions myself, though I'm sure some do exist. But in an election as divided as this one, there are certainly some tensions."

Housewife Alicia Fowler, who has been here for 13 years, said: "It's a total circus. It is like two kids fighting at the playground, with Trump being the bully."

The 47-year-old, who resides in Sentosa, said that she enjoys conversing with Singaporeans, especially taxi drivers, on the topsy-turvy election campaign.

"I am so impressed by their knowledge of our candidates and our political system," she said. "I think since the US election is on a world stage, it's become not just an American discussion but a global one."

Mrs Fowler, who has voted by mail for Mrs Clinton, said: "She is more experienced and clearly a better choice. I think it is time we had our first female president."

Her neighbour, housewife Donna Landry, who has been residing here since 2014, however, will be voting for Mr Trump. The 54-year-old said: "I've friends on both sides. As Americans, we respect each other's choices."

On the morning of Nov 9, Singapore time, an election watch event will be organised by the US Embassy and the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore for invited guests to view the live coverage of the presidential election results.

Calvin Yang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 23, 2016, with the headline 'Divided on whom to pick as their next president'. Print Edition | Subscribe