Former U.S. President Barack Obama (REUTERS)
Former U.S. President Barack Obama (REUTERS)

Most problems in the world came from old people, mostly men, holding onto positions of power: Barack Obama

  • Barack Obama, a Democrat, served as US president for two consecutive terms from 2009 until 2017
  • Recalling the tumultuous period as he stepped into office in 2008 amidst the global economic meltdown, Obama said that his plate was full

SINGAPORE : Most of the problems the world faced were caused by old people, mostly men, holding onto positions of power, according to former US president Barack Obama, who said on Monday that he believed in leaders stepping aside when the time came.

He also said that If women ran every country in the world there would be a general improvement in living standards and outcomes.

When asked if he would ever consider going back into political leadership, the 58-year-old former president said he believed in leaders stepping aside when the time came.

"If you look at the world and look at the problems it's usually old people, usually old men, not getting out of the way," Obama was quoted as saying at a private event in Singapore on leadership by the BBC.

Obama, a Democrat, served as US president for two consecutive terms from 2009 until 2017.

"It is important for political leaders to try and remind themselves that you are there to do a job, but you are not there for life, you are not there in order to prop up your own sense of self importance or your own power," Obama said as his Republican Party successor Donald Trump was facing impeachment over his demand for favours from Ukraine against his likely Democratic rival, Joe Biden.

He said while in the White House, he had thought about what a world run by women would look like.

"Now women, I just want you to know; you are not perfect, but what I can say pretty indisputably is that you're better than us [men].

"I'm absolutely confident that for two years if every nation on earth was run by women, you would see a significant improvement across the board on just about everything... living standards and outcomes," he said.

Recalling the tumultuous period as he stepped into office in 2008 amidst the global economic meltdown, Obama said that his plate was full.

"The economy was contracting more rapidly than it did during the Great Depression," the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate was quoted as saying by Singpore's The Straits Times newspaper.

He acknowledged that people often asked him why he did not get more stressed.

"I attribute some of this to my Hawaiian/Indonesian vibe," he said, referring to his childhood in Indonesia from 1967 to 1971, when he moved back to his birthplace of Honolulu.

"I didn't get too high, buy all the hype when you are on the posters, on the cover of magazines... I didn't get too low when things were tough partly because I was confident that we were making the best decisions possible in the circumstances," Obama said.

The secret of him being less stressful, he said was due to people and process.

"If you are in any kind of leadership situation, your first job is to put together the best possible talent, people who have integrity, who subscribe to your work values and believe in your vision.

"You put them in positions to succeed and you make decisions based on best available information and setting up a process where you are able to see from every angle what kind of solutions you might come up, to the problems you are facing," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

Although president Trump was never mentioned by name, there were allusions to his policies in Obama's responses which were critical of the stark political polarisation evident in America today, the report noted.

During Obama's stay here, the former president met Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

"A pleasure to catch up with former US President Barack Obama this morning. He and his wife Michelle Obama are in town this weekend to give talks about their time in the White House.

"Happy to see the Obamas having more time to spend together, even here in Singapore. Looking forward to our next meeting!", Lee tweeted.

The Obamas were in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur last week for an Obama Foundation event.

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