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Published: Monday April 28, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday April 28, 2014 MYT 7:38:50 AM

Bukit Bintang 'empty' for Obama's visit amid tight security

US President Barack Obama's Car "The Beast" using Federal Highway during US President Barack Obama visit to Malaysia

US President Barack Obama's Car "The Beast" using Federal Highway during US President Barack Obama visit to Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Bukit Bintang was a far cry from being a shopping paradise. There were fewer vehicles around smaller crowds outside shopping complexes.

Instead, US Secret Service personnel dressed casually and wearing communications earpieces were seen instructing passengers to get out of vehicles at a checkpoint leading to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel where President Barack Obama is staying.

Sniffer dogs were used to thoroughly check all vehicles passing through the checkpoint.

However, none of the motorists appeared annoyed with having to put up with the security measures. Several even happily snapped photos of the personnel and canines at work.

Still, others were in the area to either try and catch a glimpse of Obama or watch his security detail in action.

Among them was company director Tommy Tan, 53, who said he wanted to observe the big burly men with their Belgian Shepherd dogs.

“I was really curious so I walked across the road just to watch them for about 20 minutes.

“I saw them examining three cars and they were extremely thorough,” he said.

Pavilion KL staffer Yoharao Bemaraju, 21, said he enjoyed observing the US security personnel “at their best”.

“I also saw six to eight buses filled with Malaysian policemen pull up by the roadside. I think tourists felt safe seeing more Malaysian policemen around besides the US security men,” he said.

A foodstall operator in Jalan Gading near the Ritz-Carlton said he knew Obama “was in town”.

“But I was too busy to look for him,” he said.

College students Jack Sia, 18, said he and friend Nicholas Chong, also 18, only went to the Pavilion after the President’s motorcade left as they knew that traffic would have eased by then.

Taxi driver Yeong Lee Sin, 61, who operates around Bukit Bintang area, said he had to find alternative routes to ferry passengers.

Tags / Keywords: Nation, Transport & Safety, Barack Obama, Secret Service, hotel security, Bukit Bintang, Jalan Imbi, Barack Obama, US President, United States, Malaysia, Asia Pacific

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