Asean Young Leadership Forum Malaysia Public Statement
10 November 2016
The majority of people perhaps had not anticipated Trump’s victory in the 45th American election yesterday. Even though preliminary results initially were hinting at Clinton’s victory, Trump successfully changed the world perception and political landscape. Whether the international community is happy or not with the election outcome is not the question. The Asian stock market fell following Trump’s surprising victory. Nevertheless, he is now Mr. President, and therefore the question is: how does the international community move forward?
Why is the political landscape in the United States relevant to that in Malaysia? There are some similarities in demographic characteristics between the United States and Malaysia; both are multi-cultural and multi-religious. The urban community in both countries mainly consists of the younger generation and intellectuals whereas the rural community comprises natives (major ethnic group).
This recent election reflected a strong will among the white community to see aggressive changes and guard their interests as American citizens. It also reminds us of the huge influence played by rural communities on political landscapes and elections of a nation. In fact, in a democratic country, voters from rural areas have been shown to have more power in determining patterns of governance.
We have seen that the Democratic party under Obama’s leadership had undertaken numerous initiatives to help America get out of its economic problems. Millions of jobs were successfully created. Despite that, the election outcome was a clear indication that people were still frustrated, that the systems had failed them, and that they wanted radical changes to the overall system which they believe not to have any real positive impacts, such as health insurance, taxation, etc.
What are the impacts of Trump election as President on ASEAN as a whole?
In his series of talks and rallies, Trump had always been seen as a racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim. Not many policies were expected to change except for those concerning Muslims and minorities.
Among the impacts we need to know if Trump really carried out the policies he campaigned for are:
- Special ID cards for American Muslims.
- Restricting the number of Muslims traveling to America
- Forming closer ties with Israel
- Adopting an autocratic approach in the Middle East, including to support Russia’s position in Syria and Iraq. With that strategy, Trump aimed at destroying SIS faster.
- Restricting further political and speech freedom of Muslims.
It is also important to note that the outcomes of Trump’s policies may not differ too much from those of Clinton’s, despite the different approach. This shows that no matter who gets elected, there might be no real difference pertaining to Muslims’ interests and affairs.
Trump has been seen as someone not of strong character. His speech is deemed weak and less charismatic, not having real contents. Even with his victory, many Americans clearly disagree with his attitude and approach. Can Trump and his family be regarded as role models?
Some analysts have predicted the fall of America with the rise of Trump, and that China would rise as the next superpower. This is indeed a possibility. What about the global Muslim community? Does the election of Trump denote further destruction of Muslim countries?
We need to realize that the weakness and division within Muslim communities have long occurred, before the Trump phenomenon. Whether it will get worse or not is the question. The question is: how can Muslims unite, lead and champion global issues, and contribute to the betterment of mankind?
What we can do as ASEAN citizens include:
- Pray for, and show support to the minority groups in America to ensure that they get equal rights and treatment.
- Strive to unite Muslims beyond national and racial boundaries
- Continue to evaluate and analyze the changes in policy trends in America
- Approach and understand the needs of rural communities, as their voice has been proven to be equally important to their urban counterparts
In conclusion, Trump’s election as the new President of the United States will create a new political landscape which will be closely watched by the world. Hopefully not all the impacts will be negative, but regardless of whatever the impacts are, our struggle for, and devotion to meaningful work and the greater good will have to continue.
Dr Nur Aisyah Zainordin & Dr Raudah Muhd Yunus
Asean Youth Leaders Forum Malaysia