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Obama addresses young leaders in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur: Former US President Barack Obama on Friday addressed young leaders at a plenary session here organized by his foundation.

The titled “How the Asia-Pacific Shaped Us”, featured the former President and his half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, who reflected on their childhood in Indonesia and Hawaii, reports Efe news.

“It gave me a sense of how people can struggle because when I moved to Indonesia in 1967, Indonesia had just gone through political turmoil and the country was still very underdeveloped, there was a lot of poverty,” Obama said.

“There was also a lot of wealth and so you start to see how societies can give so much to some and so little to others, and that, I think, informed my views.”

The plenary, which gathered 200 emerging leaders from 33 Asia-Pacific countries, dropped the curtain on an event that began Tuesday and included workshops, leadership development sessions, and community service projects.

To them, the former President said they should “listen as much as they are talking”, adding that people are more likely to change their minds on divisive issues if they feel they’re being heard.

Obama’s visit to Malaysia was preceded by his wife Michelle’s trip to Vietnam, where she visited schools in Long An province on behalf of the Obama Foundation’s Girls Opportunity Alliance, meeting Vietnamese education programs dedicated to empowering women.

The former First Lady was accompanied by actress Julia Roberts, one of many celebrities to have collaborated with the Obamas’ philanthropic projects across the years.