President Obama Visits Malaysia

World Today

The president has a full agenda for his two day visit that will include a bilateral meeting with Malaysia’s prime minister and a town-hall style meeting with young people from across Southeast Asia. CCTV’s Rian Maelzer reports from Kuala Lumpur. 

President Obama Visits Malaysia

President Obama Visits Malaysia

The president has a full agenda for his two day visit that will include a bilateral meeting with Malaysia's prime minister and a town-hall style meeting with young people from across Southeast Asia. CCTV’s Rian Maelzer reports from Kuala Lumpur.

After several postponements, and for the first time in nearly half a century, an American president sets foot on Malaysian soil.

President Barack Obama’s first stop is a welcoming ceremony at Malaysia’s parliament. To the disappointment of many here, Obama is not planning to meet the leader of the country’s political opposition, Anwar Ibrahim, whose alliance won more than half the popular vote in last year’s elections.
But Obama is slated to meet Sunday with civil society groups, including some who are highly critical of the government.

Many here these days are highly critical of Obama himself too, or at least his Middle East policy.

Wan Saiful, policy analyst in Malaysia says: “People have seen him as just another president of the US. We may have warmed up to him at the beginning but I don’t think the same sentiment exists today. So today people do not really distinguish between Obama the man and Obama the president.”

The US ambassador to Malaysia, Joseph Yun, says the visit will underline the strength of bilateral ties between the two countries that are not only major trading partners, but also increasingly cooperating militarily as well. He says: “And of course, how we work together in many fields like education exchanges, like enhanced diplomacy, how we work together on regional issues, how we work together on trade and investment issues and so on.”

Many people here, from Islamists to left wing social activists, oppose the deal fearing it will lead to US domination of the country’s economy.

Many Malaysians will also expect their prime minister to voice concerns over the lack of progress on peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, which is an issue that has cost Obama a lot of his initial popularity in this mostly Muslim country.