President Obama in Malaysia

Thank you US Embassy for the invitation to attend the Town Hall for Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) with President Barack Obama. I would like to share just a few general impressions of the event and President Obama's speech.

I felt so proud to witness the first American President since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966. YESEALI was held in Dewan Tun Canselor, University of Malaya at around 3.30 p.m. The security in the campus was very strict. The queue started around 11.00 a.m. in front of the Dewan Tun Canselor. 

Dewan Tun Canselor, University of Malaya
The participants that waited to enter the hall

The 10 flags in the hall represented the young leaders from the 10 ASEAN member countries to tackle what Southeast Asian youth have identified the greatest challenges i.e. civic engagement, education, economic development and environmental protection. 

The Town Hall session kicked start with Mr. Obama's greetings in Bahasa Malayu. He said that "Malaysia Boleh" was resemblance to "Yes We Can" throughout his presidency campaign. He emphasized the power of youth towards the nation building and transform the world into a better place. The vision of our world lies in the hands of the youths. Together, we can achieve just, prosperous and peace. 

Now I would like to share some highlight on President Obama's speech:-

1. Equality

"Malaysia won't succeed if non-Muslims don't have opportunity" the best quote of the day. He emphasized in the "togetherness" despite the races, religions, languages and differences. It is important to respect the diversity because it is the uniqueness of this nation. The diversity creates unique intersection of humanity. The equality of different background and ethnic groups is important to achieve a prosperous nation. He further expressed that we should appreciate our differences and background, it shouldn't be a reason to discriminate.

2. Perseverance

The problem that most of the youth facing today is being "impatience". Impatience is usually defined as irritation with anything that causes delay. It is a strength to change something but sometimes, we can be disappointed if change doesn't happen immediately. He pointed out the need to persevere and do not give up easily in whatever field that we are doing. I appreciate his encouragement because I face the same problem as well. I always look forward to achieve result immediately without realizing the importance of strong foundation. Daisaku Ikeda once said "What is easily done can be easily undone. To move steadily forward on one's chosen path, step after step, whether or not others are watching; to meet difficulties with the steady, relentless strength ceaselessly flowing water-such firmness of purpose, such integrity and perseverance builds a foundation that can be never compromised." Never give up. 

3. Money

Mr. President said if we want to start a business, we should be really excited about the product and it shouldn't just about how much money we can make. For example Bill Gates who started Microsoft are really interested in what they do and they really think that it can make a difference in people. He said "I think the most important thing for me was when I started thinking more about other people and how I could have impact in my larger society and community, and wasn't just thinking about myself." That's when your dreams can really come true, if we think about others, our world gets bigger. (Y)

4. Time

Mr. President discourage us to spend every minute of every day working (yayyy!) It is because we have to enjoy life. But it is also important to spend time wisely because most of us have spent awful lot of time on watching TV or playing games. When we add it up, we could have spent more time in learning a new language or other meaningful things. Remember time losses can never be redeemed, we must use time as a tool.

5. Family 

Spend more time with family because in the end, the family is such an important part of our life! He warned those who have not called their parents lately to care about their family. Malchor Lim once said, you must make an effort to appreciate what you have, who loves you and who cares for you, because you will never know how much they mean to you until the day they are no longer beside you. Spend lots of quality time with the people you love, someday you will either regret not doing so or you will be glad for what you did. 

Many people are saying that it was wasted opportunity because the participants had threw weak questions. In my opinion this talk is rather personal one for us to know how a president think. He might be dealing with political and global issues everyday but the answer by Obama to those simple questions really inspired me. Please be informed that the participants is formed from high school students until graduated youths. It is not fair to generalize everyone as there were only a few people randomly selected to ask. I had prepared so many questions in hand but I was not being selected to to share my questions and thoughts with Mr. President. (face problem maybe?) I hope to see him in the near future to have a greater discussions with him :)

Anyway, I SHAKE HANDS with Obama today!! 
(p/s: Please don't ever touch my hand because I am not going to wash it for the next 3 days haha!)

Sources: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/27/remarks-president-obama-young-southeast-asian-leaders-initiative-town-ha


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