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Obama's one-liner on Swiss funds sets tongues wagging

Stephen Ng

Published
Modified 23 Nov 2016, 6:39 am

COMMENT Make no mistake, even golf buddy President Barack Obama can turn against a kleptocrat, although his concern is largely veiled by political diplomacy.

Unlikely that it was a slip of the tongue, Obama’s recent speech during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Peru this year contained a line which has since been talked about by Malaysians on the social media.

In my opinion, this one-liner was mentioned with some care not to offend; nonetheless intended to stimulate some re-evaluation of what the world would become without America pushing for an inclusive world order.

After the defeat of the Democrats in the recent presidential election, Obama expressed his regrets that if America under president-elect Donald Trump cannot fill the void through its foreign policies, there is no other country that will be able to play the role of a troubleshooter to help make the world a better place.

Obama said neither China nor Russia are doing what America has been doing all this while to protect the world order. “Russia is not thinking about how to rebuild Haiti after the hurricane, but we are,” he said.

This may lead to the collapse of world order, he warned.

Ears prick up

At exactly the 46th minute into his speech, Obama clearly said: “We all have responsibilities... every nation, respecting the dignity and the worth of its citizens and America can’t do it all for everybody else.

“There are limits to our reach in other countries if they are determined to oppress the people, not provide good education, (pause) or siphon off development funds into Swiss bank accounts because their leaders are corrupt...”

Although Obama did not mention names of the kleptocrats specifically, and his speech was regarded as respectful to say the least, it shows that he is at least well-informed of the kinds of problems that are plaguing some Third World countries, including Malaysia...

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