America has a new POTUS. Donald Trump.
After months of campaigning, the highly controversial Donald Trump made history and pulled off one of the greatest upsets in political history when he won the White House back for the Republicans.
No major poll, analysts nor political commentators expected Trump to stand a chance against Hillary Clinton, with many saying that a "Clinton victory is inevitable".
Yet all those predictions proved to be wrong, as the former reality TV star and real estate tycoon has been elected the 45th President of the United States by the people of America yesterday, 9 November.
How does Trump's presidency affect Malaysia? We take a look at some key areas that might affect our nation:
1. Suspension of Malaysians immigrating to the US could happen
Trump notoriously made headlines in December 2015, when he called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States". A few months ago, he proposed to impose a travel ban on countries that are compromised by terrorism.
"The immigration laws of the United States give the President the power to suspend entry into the country of any class of persons that the President deems detrimental to the interests or security of the United States, as he deems appropriate," he said.
"I will use this power to protect the American people. When I am elected, I will suspend immigration from areas of the world when there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we understand how to end these threats."
Though he did not specify the countries that will go into this "ban list", international media CNN came up with a list of 40 countries that could be implicated. Malaysia, a country where the majority are Muslims, was included in that list alongside India, Philippines, Russia, Israel and Indonesia amongst others.
2. Malaysia’s global competitiveness in the international trade sector may suffer
Malaysian Industrial Development Finance (MIDF) Amanah Investment Bank Bhd chief economist Dr Kamaruddin Mohd Nor said that the US is an important trade partner for Malaysia. However, as Trump has spoken at length about the US self-interest, Malaysia's trade value and volume may suffer a decline due to policy changes from Trump's administration.
"There will be a possible shock in the short to medium term due to uncertainty surrounding possible revision of trade practices in US," Kamaruddin told Business Times.
"Protectionism measures in the form of tariff and non-tariff measures will adversely affect trade relationship between US and Malaysia."
On the other hand, senior academician at S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore Oh Ei Sun shared a different opinion.
“As a businessman, Trump would say whatever customers (voters) want to hear to win, he will cut whatever deals to stay in power," Oh was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini.
3. Almost a decade-long worth of discussions and negotiations on Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) may be wasted
Trump has been highly critical of the controversial TPPA, which is said to be Barack Obama administration's "pivot to Asia". 12 participating nations dotted around the Pacific Rim including Malaysia have signed the agreement earlier this year.
During his campaign for the presidency, one of Trump's trade proposals was to withdraw from the TPPA which will set up a free trade zone among the 12 countries that exclude China.
Politicians from both the ruling Barisan Nasional (NS) coalition and the opposition have reportedly expressed caution on the US' next move with Trump as president. They are concerned that the years of negotiations and effort spent on the TPPA may just go down the drain.
4. Malaysia may be pushed into China's embrace
Trump's presidency comes at a time when Malaysia and China signed 14 Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) worth RM143.64 billion during PM Najib Razak's recent working visit to China.
The 14 business arrangements sealed between two countries defence are related to economy, agriculture, education, finance and the construction sectors.
Trump has reportedly accused China as "the single greatest currency manipulator that’s ever been on this planet" on more than one occasion. He has also claimed that China is "killing" the U.S. on trade and has pledged to turn things around.
In recent times, China has been exerting greater influence in the Asean region, despite ongoing territorial dispute with Beijing over the South China Sea.
James Chin, director of the Asia Institute at the University of Tasmania, told Malaysiakini that "China will gain if the US is not interested in the South China Sea", adding that he believes that Trump is less likely to confront China on the issue.
5. The 1MDB lawsuits by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) may be dropped
In July, the US DOJ filed lawsuits to size more than USD1 billion worth of assets said to have been misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, a fund set up by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in 2009 to boost the Malaysian economy.
Najib and President Barack Obama are known to be "buddies" ever since the duo were spotted in Hawaii playing golf together back in December 2014 but analysts said the relationship cooled after the DOJ filed that 1MDB lawsuit.
The opposition MPs have aggressively called for Najib to step down following the 1MDB scandal, and will be observing closely to see if Trump's presidency has any implication on the DOJ suit.
“After failing with Obama, the question is whether Najib will have better luck lobbying the new president to drop attempts to seize the laundered funds and assets siphoned from 1MDB," Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua was quoted as saying by South China Morning Post (SCMP).
6. The government may have to realign its political allies
According to international media reports, an Israeli minister said that "Trump’s victory is an opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state", in reference to the longstanding territorial dispute between Palestine and Israel.
"This is the position of the President-elect, as written in his platform, and it should be our policy, plain and simple. The era of a Palestinian state is over," Naftali Bennett, the Minister of Education said in a press release.
As of September 2015, Malaysia is one of the 136 countries around the world that recognise the State of Palestine and the two countries have been enjoying warm and close bilateral relations.
The Malaysian government has openly condemned Israel on several occasions and urged the Israeli government to put a permanent end to injustice against the Palestinians.
It remains unclear how Trump's administration will address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and if it will affect Malaysia's relations but it is noted that he reportedly said that he will take a "neutral approach" when addressing this issue.
Despite this new, unprecedented development, PM Najib Razak said that US-Malaysia ties won't be affected by Trump's presidency
"I believe that he will find the right approach that can help the US build a (strong) cooperation with other countries," he said.
Najib said he personally knew Trump and therefore, the president-elect was no stranger to him.
"Not many people expected this (Trump's victory). The US voters want a president who can develop the economy and create high-paying jobs," he said.
Do you think Malaysia will be greatly affected now that Trump is the new US president? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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