KUALA LUMPUR: With United States President Barack Obama coming to town, be prepared for a total “security lockdown”.
As customary wherever the US commander-in-chief is abroad, it will be strictly out of bounds as far as roads and airspace are concerned.
Besides heightened police presence, expect road closures in major parts of the city with a “no-fly zone” to be enforced to protect the president ahead of his arrival onboard Air Force One at the RMAF base in Subang on Saturday afternoon.
Everyone is tightlipped on the president’s movements here.
A US Embassy official responded, tongue-in-cheek: “To tell you I’ll have to kill you.”
The US Secret Service has been in the country over the past month, “securing” the president’s routes, hotel and places he will step foot in.
US military cargo planes have begun delivering logistical supplies for Obama’s visit, including support vehicles and trucks loaded with sheets of bullet-proof glass, to cover windows of the hotel Obama will stay in.
Obama’s trip will be the first by a sitting US president to Malaysia in 48 years since Lyndon B. Johnson came way back in 1966.
Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman confirmed that security in the skies would be “airtight”, saying the department was well prepared.
“I cannot tell you any more as that will be a breach,” he said when contacted yesterday.
City deputy police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Amar Singh said the police were fully prepared on the security aspect.
“We have sufficient manpower and will work with other agencies to ensure everything goes smoothly,” he said.
The 44th president would be ferried in his Cadillac One, tagged The Beast (refer to graphics).
A taste of what to expect here is already being experienced in Tokyo, where security has been dramatically ramped up with 16,000 police officers deployed in readiness for the first state visit by a US president there in nearly two decades.
The president is currently in the Japanese capital and heads to Seoul before flying here.
Local media said a full third of Tokyo’s police force had been pressed into service for Obama’s two-night visit, which begins today.
Left luggage lockers and rubbish bins have been sealed in some stations and thousands of security cameras have been put into operation.