President Obama held a townhall today in Burma where he was met with signs that read "Reform is fake" and "Change." He commented on the signs before getting on with the program.
"It’s wonderful to be back in Myanmar. Everybody, please have a seat. Have a seat," the president started. "Oh, we got some signs -- 'Reform is fake.' 'Change…' -- okay, well, you guys will have a chance to ask questions later. Yeah, you can put them away. That’s why we’re here -- for a town hall. See, that’s the thing, when you have a town hall, you don’t have a protest because you can just ask the questions directly."
Later the president sent a message by taking questions in the order of " boy, girl, boy, girl." As he told the crowd in Burma, "Okay, I’m going to go –- now, the one thing I’m going to do is I’m going to go boy, girl, boy, girl to make sure that it’s fair, because one thing I didn’t say in my initial speech is societies that are most successful also treat their women and girls with respect. Otherwise, they won’t be successful." The crowd applauded.
Obama also blamed old people for creating a "mess" that young people now have to clean up:
In the United States, I've instructed my Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the amount of greenhouse gases that power plants can send into the atmosphere. And we've doubled fuel-efficiency standards on cars. So in a few years, by the middle of the next century, by 2025, you won't be able to sell a car in the United States unless it is delivering twice as much mileage for every gallon of gas.
And so you can build in transition times to get this done. But we have to start now. And this is probably a good place for me to end by just saying that the issue of climate change is a perfect example of why young people have to lead.
Because old people, they've created a mess, and then they'll be gone. And then you -- (applause) -- you're the ones who have to deal with it. And also what happens is old people get set in their ways. So the older you get, the more likely you are to say, that's how it's always been so that's how I'm going to keep on doing it -- even if there's a better way to do things.
Young people, they're asking, well, why do I have to do it that way? Let's try it this way. And that kind of willingness to accept challenges and try things in a new way, to not be stuck in the past, or to look towards the future, that's what all of you represent.
So I'm hopeful that you have a chance to participate in our Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Fellows Program. Maybe I'll see some of you in the United States. I'm sure all of you are going to do great things. And I hope all of you dream big and then work hard to achieve those dreams.