President Barack Obama (pic) has cancelled his visit to Malaysia next week due to the current US government shutdown, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.
"Obama called this morning and informed me that he has to cancel his visit to Malaysia due to events transpiring in the United States, which has caused a partial shutdown of the government," Najib said.
A political deadlock in Washington over Obama's healthcare plan, which is opposed by the Republicans, has led to close to a million Americans waking up today with no job to go to.
Najib said US Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will be coming to Malaysia next week to represent Obama at the 4th Global Entrepreneurs Summit.
"While Obama's cancellation was unforeseen and unexpected, I empathise with him as I would do the same if I was in a similar situation," he said.
"Obama would be severely criticised if he were to go on with his Asian tour instead of remaining in the United States to resolve the crisis," added Najib.
"I do not know how long the shutdown will continue in the US but we are monitoring events there very closely," he said.
On October 17, the US Congress will decide whether to raise the US$16.7 trillion (RM54.6 trillion) debt ceiling or scramble to find the cash.
Najib said the partial shutdown of the US government will have serious consequences on October 17.
Failure to agree to a rise in the US government's borrowing authority would force the US to default on some payment obligations.
Such a scenario would not only be devastating for the US economy, but also send shockwaves around the globe, including Malaysia.
The deadlock in Washington stemmed from the Republican's opposition to Obama's healthcare reforms as they want the reforms to be delayed.
Many Republicans see the "Obamacare" health plan, intended to provide coverage for millions of less wealthy Americans, as wasteful.
They also view the plans as restricting freedom as "Obamacare" requires most citizens to have health insurance. - October 2, 2013.