Cambodian strong man Hun Sen issued an “I-told-you-so” message in reaction to Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president as a spokesman for the democratically-elected president of Myanmar said he expected relations between Naypyidaw and Washington to grow stronger.
The Republican nominee and president-elect has vowed to reorder the U.S. place in the world as he has rejected the internationalism practiced by his predecessors in both parties, rip up trade agreements and draw back from American military commitments overseas.
Asia’s longest-serving despot gloated over the victory in a message posted on his Facebook page.
“Several days day ago, when I publicly expressed my support for your candidacy, some people verbally attacked me by saying that only someone like me would support a dictator like you,” he wrote. “Now it is unequivocal that Americans have wanted you as their leader. I was therefore not mistaken to endorse you.”
The head of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) Sam Rainsy used the election as a reminder to a country run by Hun Sen for 31 years that functioning democracies peacefully change leadership.
“The U.S. election results reflect real democracy at work,” Sam Rainsy said Wednesday on RFA’s Khmer-language Live-TV Show. “Americans very regularly change their President. Presidents can serve only two terms.”
That’s a vastly different reality than in Cambodia, he said.
“On the contrary in Cambodia, the prime minister, who has clung on to power for several terms, is a dictator,” Sam Rainsy explained. “The Cambodian National Assembly is nothing but a puppet while the courts are dummies. It is paradoxical that Hun Sen endorsed Donald Trump while he has acted against the principles of democracy which are fully embraced by Americans.”
Myanmar’s president expects more
While Myanmar has seen a democratic transformation with the election of the country’s de factor leader Aung San Suu Kyi, some officials there didn’t expect much change.
“U.S. policy toward Myanmar will not change much, I think, but Hillary Clinton has more interest in Myanmar,” said Myint Kyaw, a member of the Myanmar Press Council trade union who experienced censorship and intimidation under the country’s previous military junta.
U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar Scot Marciel echoed the sentiment.
“We’ve had a long tradition under both Republican and Democratic presidents of supporting the people of Myanmar,” he said. “While the details of the policies of the new president will depend on who that person is, the general approach of staying engaged and supporting the Myanmar people will continue.”
A spokesman for Myanmar President Htin Kyaw said he thought relations between the two countries would improve with Trump in the White House.
“I believe that the relationship between the USA and Burma can only get better under President Trump,” said President’s Office Deputy-director Zaw Htay, according to the Democratic Voice of Burma.
“Now the Republicans will dominate both the U.S. Senate and Congress, and their candidate also will become president." he added. "Looking to the past, it was Republicans such as such as (Sen.) John McCain (R-Ariz.) and (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who led the push for democratization in Burma.”
Crossing the 38th parallel
North Korea had yet to react to Trump’s victory, but the official outlet DPRK Today in May praised Trump’s international stance, saying North Korea’s slogan “Yankee Go Home” may actually become a reality.
“Trump said ‘he will not get involved in the war between the South and the North,’ isn’t this fortunate from North Koreans’ perspective?” according to an NKNews.org article on the editorial.
Referring to Trump’s speech in March threatening to withdraw U.S. forces from South Korea if it does not pay more of its defense costs, the North Korean editorial welcomed the Trump with open arms.
“Yes do it, now … Who knew that the slogan ‘Yankee Go Home’ would come true like this?” NKNews.org wrote. “The day when the ‘Yankee Go Home’ slogan becomes real would be the day of Korean Unification.”
While North Korea hailed Trump, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said she expected close cooperation between Seoul and Washington to continue.
“The Government of the Republic of Korea, upon Mr. Trump’s election, will continue to closely cooperate with the next U.S. administration for the peace and prosperity in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia region, as well as the world, through further deepening and developing the ROK-U.S. alliance,” Park said in a statement.
When asked by The New York Times if he would withdraw United States forces from Japan and South Korea if those countries do not increase their payments to cover the costs of those troops he answered:
“Yes, I would. I would not do so happily, but I would be willing to do it... We cannot afford to be losing vast amounts of billions of dollars on all of this... And I have a feeling that they’d up the ante very much. I think they would, and if they wouldn’t I would really have to say yes.”
In a May interview with Reuters, he said he is willing to talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un directly in an effort to try to stop Pyongyang's nuclear program, proposing a major shift in U.S. policy toward the isolated nation.
"I would speak to him, I would have no problem speaking to him," he told Reuters.
Reported and Translated by RFA's Myanmar and Khmer Services. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.