Apa khabar? The charismatic President Obama creating an instant rapport with the crowd. - EPA
A GROUP of lucky students from HELP University were given the chance to be part of the 300-member audience when United States President Barack Obama gave a 90-minute townhall address at Universiti Malaya last Sunday.
When the president opened the floor to questions in his usual candid and easy manner, the students were ready to bombard him with questions and just as eager to hear his response, but many did not get the chance to do so. Blame it on the limited time and the president’s tight schedule.
Wayne Yap Jia Woei, 21, said he had wanted to ask the US leader about how he reached an agreement with governments in the region, when there were still some contentious issues associated with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade (TPP) agreement.
“Actually, I support the TPP but then, there are people claiming it will drive medical costs up and hurt the local businesses here,” Wayne added.
There were some who thought that the questions posed were irrelevant but Wayne said that he was of the opinion that there was no such thing as a right question.
In fact, to the Economics and Management student, what was more important was to tap into how the president thought, perceived and coped with success, happiness and setbacks
Satyan Gunasekaran, 20, was curious to get Obama’s thoughts on the economic contribution of Southeast Asian migrants in the US, and if their experiences could benefit those in the region.
His views were echoed by Raja Nur Syazwina Raja Sharudin Shah, 19, who added that she would have liked the leader to elaborate on the socio-cultural diversities between the US and Asia.
While impressed with Obama’s speech peppered with phrases in Bahasa Malaysia, Lau Ann Joe, 24, an Accounting and Finance postgraduate said he liked the way Obama reiterated on remaining true to oneself, yet embracing the diversity of different cultures.
He said that he was fortunate enough to be seated in the third row which provided him a good view of Obama “in action”.
After listening to the president speak, business student Lim Ce Lyn,19, said she felt inspired to do more with her life since she still had youth on her side.
The students were unanimous that Obama’s charisma and the way he connected with the audience and how he drew questions back to the topic at hand was an admirable trait.
Wyeth Yoon Wye Xiang, 22, said he was impressed that Obama upheld and injected family values into his speech and answers.
The president was immediately connected with his audience when he spoke about diversity. When Obama made references to his life in Indonesia and of his sister’s father-in-law living in Sandakan, Sabah, there was an even closer link as the crowd felt he was part of the region, added Wyeth.
Despite the protests made by some in the midst of his speech, the US leader took it all his stride and was calm throughout the episode.
“The president’s words ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you and treat people the way you want to be treated’ really touched me as I believe that every person should have equal opportunities and rights,” said Raja Nur Syazwina.