Former US president Barack Obama to speak at private bank event in Singapore in March

Former US President Barack Obama is coming in his personal capacity for a Bank of Singapore private event. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

SINGAPORE - Former United States president Barack Obama will be in Singapore on March 19, in his first trip here since leaving office in January last year.

Mr Obama, 56, who made an official visit to Singapore in 2009, is coming in his personal capacity for a Bank of Singapore private event.

Bank of Singapore chief executive officer Bahren Shaari said: "For eight years, Mr Obama was the most powerful person in the world. And it is from this unique perspective that he will speak on the future of the global economy as well as Asia's growing role."

The private bank, a subsidiary of OCBC Bank, said it is inviting 1,000 of its selected clients and guests from around the world for the session, billed as a "moderated conversation with the 44th President of the United States" in its e-mail invite.

Past speakers for similar events at the bank include economists Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, both Nobel Laureates, and theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. All three are Americans.

Mr Bahren said: "As part of our client engagement efforts, we are always looking for unique opportunities where our clients can glean riveting perspectives from global leaders in fields such as finance, economics and investment."

Mr Obama, who is America's first African-American president, has spoken at various events since stepping down, mostly in the US, reported the New York Times last year.

They include a health care conference sponsored by brokerage firm Cantor Fitzgerald and a talk for at-risk youths in Chicago.

It is not known how much he will be paid by the bank in Singapore, but the New York Times report said his speaking fees have gone up to US$400,000 (S$529,000) per speech.

The report quoted Mr Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for Mr Obama, saying: "Since leaving office, President Obama has spent his time doing public and private events, both paid and unpaid, that are true to his values and his record."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.