3/20/2018 1:39:03 PM
|written By : Team India Se|
We don’t know if it was a love fest like the 2002 Labour Party conference at Brighton when the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair invited former US President Bill Clinton (January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001) to be the international guest speaker, but Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sure sounded happy after meeting former US President Barack Obama (January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017) in Singapore on March 19.
“A pleasure catching up with former US President Barack Obama over dinner today. Mr Obama made a brief stopover here to meet young ASEAN leaders and give a lecture,” PM Lee wrote in a Facebook post accompanied by a picture of the two leaders smiling and looking relaxed in conversation.
This was their first meeting since 2016 when they met at Lima, in Peru, for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit.
“A lot has happened since we last met at APEC 2016 in Lima, so we had much to talk about. Happy to hear that he is busy working with his foundation and other charities. The best part about life after the presidency - more time with family and friends!” PM Lee wrote in his Facebook post.
A lot has happened indeed. On the sidelines of the Apec summit, then President Obama briefed leaders about the Trans-Pacific Partnership he favoured. Now US President Donald Trump has pulled the United States out of that proposed international trade agreement. Now it is taking shape as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) which Singapore signed along with 10 other nations -- Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam – in Santiago, Chile, on March 8.
Mr Obama, the 44th US President, was in Singapore to speak at a private lecture held by the Bank of Singapore, a subsidiary of OCBC Bank, at the Shangri-La Hotel. It was Obama's first trip to Singapore after leaving the White House last year in January,
Some 1,000 of the private bank’s clients and guests from all around the world were in attendance.
Mr Obama, 56, spoke about his life journey, climate change and his vision for the next generation during the hour-long closed-door session. It was moderated by former Nominated Member of Parliament and communications consultant Viswa Sadasivan.
It is not known how much Mr Obama is paid by the bank in Singapore, but the New York Times said his speaking fees had gone up to US$400,000 (S$529,000) per speech, noted Mothership.sg.
The bank had previously invited Nobel Prize recipients and economists Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, to address its clients.
Earlier in the day, Mr Obama attended an Obama Foundation discussion with young adults representing Southeast Asian nations, reported the Asian Correspondent. “President Obama met with a small group of emerging leaders from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries to hear about the work they are doing in their communities, and to discuss how the Obama Foundation can support them to take their work to the next level,” said the Obama Foundation.
Ganesh Muran, from Malaysia, who founded the social enterprise Saora Industries inspired by the need to provide safe drinking water to rural communities, attended the Obama Foundation discussion and tweeted he was “starstrucked” (sic) by the discussion.
Mr Obama was also pleased. “In Singapore with young people who are advocating for education, empowering young women, and getting involved all over Southeast Asia with a profoundly optimistic commitment to building the world they want to see,” he said in a tweet.
According to AP, Mr Obama will be in New Zealand from March 21 to March 23 to meet New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and participate in separate moderated conversations hosted by the New Zealand-United States Council and the Obama Foundation.
He will be in Sydney on March 23 and March 24 to meet the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. He ends his trip in Tokyo on March 25.
Mr Obama still has more followers on social media than President Trump. Mr Obama@BarackObama has 101 million followers on Twitter compared with 49.2 million followers for President Trump@realDonaldTrump. President Trump’s official Facebook page Donald J Trump@DonaldTrump has received 23.1 million Likes while Mr Obama’s Facebook page Barack Obama@barackobama has 55.2 million Likes.