Malaysia on global radar with U.S. president's arrival
By P. Prem Kumar, Friday, April 25, 2014
KUALA LUMPUR - A visit by U.S. President Barack Obama returns the eyes of the world to Malaysia this weekend, barely 50 days after the country was forced into the limelight with the tragic disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Obama is scheduled to arrive via Air Force One at the Subang air force base on Saturday afternoon to spend two nights in the country following trips to Tokyo and Seoul.
With three days of tight program, the U.S. commander-in-chief will spend his nights at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Kuala Lumpur, a luxury hotel chain originating from his homeland.
Obama was initially slated for the visit last October, but had to postpone it at the eleventh hour due to a budget standoff, which led to a partial U.S. government shutdown.
Upon arrival Saturday, he is expected to be greeted by Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak, accompanied by several key cabinet ministers, before boarding his official vehicle – Cadillac 1 a.k.a “The Beast.”
Later on in the day, a formal welcome ceremony is scheduled at the Parliament Square to be followed by an audience with the Malaysian King followed by a state banquet at The Royal Palace.
It will be a busier day for the President Sunday as five events are listed in his proposed agenda, keeping him busy for the whole day.
He is expected to begin his Sunday visit with a stopover at the U.S. Embassy in Jalal Tun Razak, followed by a cultural visit to the National Mosque.
Bilateral talks between Obama and Najib are expected to happen in the administrative capital Putrajaya, followed by both leaders witnessing the signing of key government-to-government cooperations.
The heads of state will also then launch the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creative Centre (MaGIC) near Cyberjaya, aimed to transform Malaysia into a dynamic entrepreneurial nation.
Obama is then expected to deliver a much-awaited speech at a town hall session in Malaysia's first higher education institution, the Universiti Malaya.
The session will have extra spice with Obama taking questions from ten young leaders, each representing respective ASEAN member nations.
Obama is also scheduled to meet selected Malaysian civil rights leaders.
On Monday morning, the President will witness the signing of several corporate agreements between U.S. and Malaysian companies, before leaving for the Philippines.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing after losing radio contact with Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control after leaving Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 8.
The Beijing-bound flight was carrying 239 passengers including 12-flight crew from 14 different countries.
Air and water searches involving boats, planes and now submarines have failed to find any sign of the plane.
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