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'With Obama what you see is what you get'

Aziz Haniffa in Denver, Colorado | August 29, 2008 11:35 IST
Last Updated: August 29, 2008 13:17 IST



Professor Konrad Ng

One of the many supporters cheering on Barack Obama [Images] -- during his acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention at Colorado -- was his brother-in-law Professor Konrad Ng, a Chinese-Canadian originally from Burlington, Ontario.

"Barack is just a terrific guy," says Ng, and recalls with fondness how much the presidential hopeful had put him at ease the first time he visited the Obama household.

Today is a defining moment: Obama

"He is terrific and one of the great things is that more people recognise what I see in him and all the Obamas. I see these great terrific people, great role models. When I first met the Obamas, my focus was that his younger sister would fall in love with me, as I fell in love with her."
 
Ng, a professor at the University of Hawaii's Academy of Creative Media, is married to Obama's half-sister Maya Kassandra Soetoro.

Barack Obama, in his own words

In an exclusive interview with rediff.com, he joked, "So, that was a pretty hard task you know, because I wanted to make sure I left a good impression, but he was terrific and this is what I first saw in all of them."
 
"Barack is the real thing," feels Ng, and adds, "what you see is what you get."

Obama inspires Democrats

Ng specialises in creative media, in terms of film and representation and how it relates to popular culture. Speaking on how he views the Obama phenomenon that has metamorphosed into a massive movement, Ng said, "What I find very interesting in the Obama campaign or the Obama affect, is the fact that you see a whole new set of representations of different kinds of people in circulation."

'Why I switched to Obama'

"And I think that is progress. The fact that people can look up to him as the president. They can look up to our role models and there are more of them out there and I think it is an amazing contribution to the realm of popular culture," he said.
 
Ng, who received his PhD in political science from the University of Hawaii in Manoa like his wife, who got her doctorate in education, acknowledged that this kind of a representation was indeed unprecedented. The campaign and the convention have both witnessed motley of cultures, races and ethnicities, and a comfort level sans any semblance of curiosity or stereotyping.

Hillary steals the show

"One of the great things about the campaign," he said, "Is that it turns the focus back to what we find in common -- the sense of values that we believe in, as citizens of this country and what we want. We want to be able to have our kids have great opportunities, we want to be able to afford things like education and healthcare, we want to face up to a public world to be better represented and more true to our core values."

Bill Clinton shines at the meet

Consequently, Ng said, "When you focus on that, then you begin to recognise what we have more in common rather than, 'Well, you know we have more work to do in this way, we have more work to do now,' and so on."
 
He pointed out that Obama, in his speech on race a few months ago, spoke about moving "towards a more perfect union."
 
"But what this whole campaign has been about is that we have more in common than our politics has suggested and I think that has been beautiful," Ng reiterated.






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