If Donald Trump wins the US Presidential election on Tuesday, his victory will be celebrated by few in Indonesia, where his anti-Muslim rhetoric has made him deeply unpopular.
Just 10 per cent of 500 Indonesians polled in the survey commissioned by the South China Morning Post said they wanted Trump to win the election – a stark contrast from the popularity incumbent President Barack Obama, who spent four years of his youth in Indonesia, enjoys in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
Support for Clinton in Indonesia (90 per cent; respondents had to pick one or the other for this part of the survey) was second only to South Korea, where 93 per cent were rooting for her to win.
Nine per cent said Trump would be better for Indonesia’s national interests, 67 per cent said Clinton was better, the rest said neither, while 8 per cent said the Republican was better for Asia, 67 per cent said the democrat and the rest said neither.
Eighteen per cent felt Trump would make the world a safer place, while 73 per cent felt the same about former secretary of state Clinton.
Observers said Trump’s sweeping comments linking all Muslims with terrorism had significantly affected Indonesians’ perception of him.
In December, following a mass shooting linked to Islamic State (IS) in San Bernardino, California, Trump called for a blanket ban on Muslim immigrants to the United States.
And in June, following another mass shooting carried out by a US-born Muslim man at an Orlando gay night club, Trump said he would impose stricter surveillance on mosques and warned that Muslim radicals were “trying to take our children”.
“It should not be surprising that in the world’s largest majority-Muslim nation, rejection of Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric is higher than in other nations,” said Marcus Mietzner, an expert on Indonesian politics at the Australian National University.
“The only surprising thing is that the numbers aren’t even higher,” he added.
Mustafa Izzuddin, a Southeast Asian politics researcher at Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, said to some extent “the negative view held by Indonesians of Donald Trump is a reflection of international public opinion of him as an egomaniac madman”.
But local reasons played a part too.
“Donald Trump’s obnoxiousness, repulsive personality and treating of others different from him… is antithetical to being Indonesian, underpinned largely by Javanese cultural expression and etiquette,” Mustafa said.
In the poll of 3,614 people in six countries – including Singapore, China, Japan and the Philippines – Indonesia stood out for having the highest number of people who associated Trump with arrogance. Sixty-six per cent of those polled in the country associated Trump with arrogance, compared to just three per cent who did so for Clinton.
Fifty-one per cent associated Trump with being morally unfit – compared to three per cent who felt the same about Clinton. And 42 per cent felt Trump was divisive; five per cent said the same about Clinton.
Indonesians ranked fighting international terrorism as the country’s foremost foreign policy priority – there are thought to be close to 500 Indonesian citizens fighting alongside IS in Syria and Iraq. Fifty-nine per cent said Clinton was better suited to deal with international terrorism, the rest plumped for Trump.
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The Indonesia section of the survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 per cent.
“It is important to remember that the findings show that Indonesians are extremely fearful about the growing spectre of global terrorism and the possibility of IS setting up shop in Southeast Asia,” said David Black of Singapore-based Blackbox Research, which the Post commissioned to conduct the poll.
“Yet the findings show that Trump’s tough talk on terrorism and IS is not carrying any sway with Indonesians,” he added.
“The fact that 42 per cent view him as divisive in some part illustrates that his anti-Muslim rhetoric undermines any message he communicates about defeating terrorists.”