Some very lucky young people got to meet Obama in Singapore – here’s what he’s been up to so far

Former US president Barack Obama with young leaders from Asean on Mar 19, 2018.
Obama Foundation Twitter

He may no longer be the president of the United States, but Barack Obama still commands an audience wherever he goes.

The 44th US President, who served from 2009 to 2017, is in Singapore as part of a tour which will also take him to New Zealand, Australia and Japan.

While he has been quiet about the trip on his personal social media accounts, some of the lucky few who met him have openly talked about their once-in-a-lifetime experiences with the former president.

Here’s what Obama has been up to since arriving in the sunny island early this week.

On Monday (Mar 19) night, the 56-year-old caught up with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong over dinner.

In a Facebook post, PM Lee said Obama was in town for a brief stopover in Singapore.

The Singapore premier said they had much to talk about, especially since the duo last met at an Apec meeting in 2016.

“Happy to hear that he is busy working with his foundation and other charities,” PM Lee said.

And the best part about life after the presidency, he learned, was that Obama now has more time to spend with his family and friends.

Prior to the dinner meeting, Obama met a small group of very fortunate young leaders from Asean.

An update on the Obama Foundation website said that the meeting included young leaders such as Ganesh Murrurti from Malaysia and Singapore’s Vanessa Paranjothy, who is founder of the Freedom Cups organisation.

Ganesh Murrurti, who founded Saora Industries, said via Twitter that he was starstruck to meet Obama at the closed-door meeting.

According to the Obama Foundation, the meeting was aimed at discussing what could be done to support the work each of these leaders’ organisations are doing in their communities.

“They will also brainstorm about how emerging leaders across ASEAN countries can work together to promote sustainable growth,” the post said.

In a Tweet, Obama said these young leaders were “getting involved all over Southeast Asia with a profoundly optimistic commitment to building the world they want to see”.

The stopover in Singapore also included an exclusive meeting at the Shangri-La Hotel organised by Bank of Singapore, an OCBC Bank subsidiary, for 1,000 of its clients.

Mr Delane Lim, executive director of the Character and Leadership Academy, and Mr Wong Zi Heng, a trainee teacher, with Bank of Singapore chief executive Bahren Shaari. Mr Bahren invited the pair to hear former US president Barack Obama speak after reading in The Straits Times of how they overcame adversity in their lives.
The Straits Times

During the session, Obama spoke about his life’s journey and topics he is passionate about, The Straits Times reported.

The news website reported that former ambassador to the United Nations Tommy Koh, former managing partner of Ernst & Young Fang Ai Lian, and NTUC FairPrice chief executive Seah Kian Peng, were among guests at the event.

Former United States Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar also posted a couple of photos on Instagram, providing a glimpse into Obama’s time in Singapore.

A post shared by Kirk Wagar (@ambwagar) on

A post shared by Kirk Wagar (@ambwagar) on