Travellers to Kuala Lumpur face security risks arising from terrorism, street protests, and crime. Over four terror plots were disrupted by police in the first months of 2018. These plots were planned to be executed during major events in Kuala Lumpur and in other areas such as Johor. Malaysia also faces the prospect of terror attacks being conducted by returning IS combatants who have been seasoned from their experiences in Syria, Iraq, and Marawi.
Malaysia remains subject to the threat of terrorism, and has been targeted in propaganda videos by the Islamic State (IS) on 25 Jan 2016 and 2 Jan 2018 respectively. The threat of a home-grown terrorist movement is also a prominent cause for concern, especially considering the return of Malaysian combatants with IS affiliations. Another series of terror plots have also been disrupted by Malaysian authorities, including the recent arrest of seven militants on 24 Mar 2018 who planned to kill police and attack non-Muslim houses of worship with firearms and improvised explosives. Nearly 400 suspected terrorists have been arrested in Malaysia since 2013.
Kuala Lumpur is expected to be the site of political demonstrations and uncertainty in the aftermath of the 14th Malaysian general elections that was held on 9 May 2018. The event had resulted in the election of a non-UMNO political party to preside over the country for the first time in Malaysia’s history. Public demonstrations have previously been held against UMNO’s corruption scandals that include state-owned fund 1MDB, which had attracted tens of thousands of protestors.
Visitors to Malaysia are susceptible to a high risk of crime in urban areas, as mentioned in advisories by government entities such as the US Department of State on 28 Mar 2018. Petty crimes and scams are common occurrences in Kuala Lumpur, and areas such as nightclubs and bars have been assessed to be crime zones after midnight. Foreigners are particularly vulnerable to robberies and sexual assault in high crime areas.