Thu, Nov 04, 2004 - Page 5 News List

US Election: Entire world watches election outcome

GLOBAL AFFAIR From Europe to Africa, from Asia to South America, people kept track yesterday of results from the US election to fathom its worldwide influence


Americans gather to watch the election returns yesterday at the American Club in Singapore.


People around the globe were glued to radios and televisions yesterday as results rolled in from a US presidential election many thought could rattle their stock markets, rock their economies and shake up a world already wracked by war.

Giant TV screens in coffee shops, malls and train stations across Asia flashed the numbers of counted votes and showed maps of where polls had closed. Pundits debated the outcome and its possible effect on their own countries.

Anxious Malaysian investors monitored CNN on a television placed beside share price monitors at the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.

"Our market always mimics the US one. If that one goes down, ours will too," said Wong Siak Voon, a 72-year-old retiree who was hoping the Democrats' John Kerry would beat the incumbent Republican George W. Bush. "Bush is a troublemaker. Look at all the damage he's done. Bring him down!"

The election stirred big interest in Pakistan, where despite the government's close support of Bush's war on terror, most people were eager to see him voted out of office.

"I just hate him. I just hate his face," Mehtab Butt, a 50-year-old market trader in the eastern city of Lahore, said about Bush.

"The US voters have seen the violations of human rights in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.

But Arif Mahmood Khan, 36, a Lahore carpet dealer, believed Bush was better. "The world, after all, needs him. People need him to fight terrorism," he said.

Bush appeared to have plenty of other supporters in parts of Asia -- like South Korea and Taiwan -- that have close defense ties with the US.

South Korean retiree Jin Ki-soo, 78, said he favored Bush although he didn't expect the result to have much of an impact on his country. "People around my age will support Bush," he said. "The older you get, the more conservative you become."

At Seoul's main train station, some commuters paused near big television screens to watch the results.

"The United States has a lot of problems these days, in terms of the war in Iraq and the economy," said Kim Han-joon, 32, who favored the Democratic challenger. "Things need to be changed to some degree. I don't think Bush can do that."

In China, 30-year-old Jin Xin liked Kerry and thought Bush was a warmonger.

"I think Kerry will improve China-US relations. The two biggest issues are Taiwan and the economy. China wants the US to admit that Taiwan is part of China," said Jin, a sound technician in Beijing.

Interest in the elections was high in Indonesia -- the world's most populous Muslim nation -- where there is widespread anger at Bush over the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But there was little communal viewing of the results, which were only screened on cable and satellite stations. Cafes and restaurants were closed because of the Islamic fasting month.

Budiman Sudjatmiko, a democracy activist, watched the results come in at the US Embassy in Jakarta. He grimaced as Florida was called for Bush.

"This is so nerve wracking. It's like voting for the president of the world," he said, biting his nails. "If Kerry wins, I am going to have a big party."

None of the big TV screens in Tokyo's glitzy Ginza district carried footage from the election. The news focused on a Japanese hostage killed in Iraq and the aftermath of a major earthquake in northern Japan.

Tomoko Inoue, 70-year-old housewife, said she wants Bush to win.

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