Possible Donald Trump US presidency attracts interest in Asia

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally in San Jose, California on June 2, 2016.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally in San Jose, California on June 2, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - The likelihood of Donald Trump becoming the next American president has attracted much interest in the region, with at least two questions asked at two different events on Friday (June 3).

Asked about Mr Trump, United States Senator John McCain said the rise of the controversial businessman showed many Americans are very unhappy about the slow recovery from the 2008 recession, with many blue-collar workers "who see no prospect of a job...because they are overtaken by technology".

"There is a feeling that Congress and the President don't represent them, and I will argue that that's given rise to the Trump and Sanders movements," said Sen McCain, who gave a lecture about American commitment to security and prosperity in Asia at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

"We who are elected to office have to understand better what the frustrations are and what the exasperations are, and perhaps do a better job."

At the Shangri-La Dialogue, Mr Adam Ward, the Director of Studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, was also asked about the likely impact of a Trump presidency on security in South-east Asia.

Noting Mr Trump's "unsentimental" view of American alliance arrangements as one way foreigners take from the US without giving back, Mr Ward predicted "a certain unravelling of existing relationships".

"I suspect that, instinctively, Trump would be comfortable with China playing a bigger role in what would be rationalised in his mind as China's backyard," said Mr Ward.