Ask Singaporeans whether they prefer to invite a billionaire tycoon or a long-serving politician into their homes and chances are the vote might be split down the middle.
But not if the tycoon is Donald Trump and the politician Hillary Clinton.
In fact, eight in 10 Singaporeans would prefer to invite the former Secretary of State into their homes, leaving Trump to sweat it out in the tropical heat, according to a new survey by the South China Morning Post.
It’s not that surprising: the Republican presidential nominee has been rude, racist and, at times, illogical. He has shot off anti-Muslim rhetoric, bashed Mexicans and objectified women in front of a camera with millions watching on.
Singaporeans also believe that Trump is not just an unpleasant character but also an ineffective leader – the worst combination in the eyes of a populace used to efficient governance.
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More than half of 407 Singaporeans, who were polled just after the third presidential debate last month, said that under a Trump presidency, trade relations, the South China Sea situation and the conflict between South and North Korea would get worse.
In fact, in a head-to-head, Clinton trumped Trump in almost all the important security and economic issues dominating today’s geopolitical landscape, from dealing with Islamic State to cybersecurity, trade and climate change.
Former Nominated Member of Parliament and Singapore Management University Associate Professor Eugene Tan said Singaporeans were attuned to having a benign power policing the region and a Clinton presidency was likely to fit this profile.
“The public has imbibed the general tenor of Singapore’s security and economic policy well and so find Hillary Clinton to be a better fit with regards to Singapore’s interests and concerns,” he said.
“America’s benign involvement in East Asia has left an impression and so a Clinton presidency is seen as being better for Asia and Singapore.”
But even if Singaporeans prefer Clinton over Trump, they do not necessarily believe she will do a much better job than the incumbent president, Barack Obama.
On most categories, Singaporeans believe she will maintain the status quo, or maybe do a little bit better than Obama on issues of security, trade and international relations.
The poll was done before the FBI director James Comey reignited the fuse on Clinton’s e-mail server fiasco last week, casting a shadow on her campaign and raising questions over her trustworthiness.
That incident has seen US public opinion swing against Clinton just over a week before the election on November 8.
But the latest development is unlikely to change Singaporeans’ opinion of the two. Between a loud-mouth liar and a boring politician with a slightly dubious background, the choice for a dinner date is clear.
Aaron Low is a Singapore-based journalist and a former deputy business editor at the Straits Times