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Surviving terrorist attacks in Malaysia


Surviving terrorist attacks in MalaysiaSo this was caught in the news on Wednesday: Residents in an apartment in Damansara Perdana panic after seeing a ‘suicide bomber’ in the elevator. 

Luckily, it was just a false alarm, the police confirmed that it was just a scare – apparently a local went overboard in dressing up as a terrorist for a Halloween costume party.

All is fine and dandy again, for today that is. However, it got me thinking, what if something like this happens for real tomorrow? A gunman could open fire in the office tower you work in or a suicide bomber could walk into the mall you’re shopping in and threatens to detonate himself unless his demands are met.

Would you know what to do? I wouldn’t – besides freaking out that is.

People will say, well duh Reena, you run or hide and call 999! However, each circumstance might be different and one has to consider the following:

  1. You either freeze up as many people are wont to do when faced with a life-threatening situation.
  2. You neglect to remember that it’s not just about you, what can you do to assist other victims who might not be as lucky?

Bear in mind that there is no magic bullet for surviving a terror attack, as most cases are random and happen in an instant. But that does not mean you should leave everything entirely to luck – there are a few ways we can reduce the risk of being harmed and increase our survival chances.

RELATED: Think like a burglar, act to protect your home

Here’s what Andrin Raj, a national counter-terrorism expert and SEA Regional Director International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals Centre for Security Studies (IACSP) has to say:

Andrin Raj on board the Turkish Naval Ship at Port Klang for a mobile training course on counter piracy.

Fire drills aren’t enough, we need anti-terror training too

Nothing beats education and awareness programmes when it comes to emergency preparedness. Many companies in Malaysia do not engage in terrorism awareness programmes or train their staff in countering terrorism threats. Business owners have a direct obligation towards their employees’ safety, but very few realise the importance of addressing and mitigating the risk of terror-related incidents and attacks.

“There have been more than 5 terror attacks in the past few years; of which most were classified as a low-level threat and the Puchong Movida Club attack was a high-level one. Meanwhile, more than 15 attacks were nipped in the bud over the past 3 years. These were foiled by the Malaysian authorities before any civilian was injured.”

Admittedly, there is no collective urgency or push from the public sector for anti-terror and emergency readiness training. Relevant governmental stakeholders should create public awareness on counter-terrorism issues and spearhead training/ education efforts. Maybe come up with a national emergency training framework and code of conduct that companies can refer too and provide incentives for training.

Top 4 Tips for Civilians

What do I do when a gunman opens fire in the building I’m in?

RUN first, if you can:-

  • When you enter a building, take note of where the emergency exits are and make sure you do not pick an unobstructed one.
  • Remember to use the stairs instead of elevators as the power might trip.
  • Do not scream or yell, as this will only aggravate the gunman further.
  • Leave your belongings behind, it isn’t the time for you to be thrifty.

Take note of your exits. (Image Source: Getty)

If you have to HIDE:-

  • Get behind or under a secure barricade, such as a cement pillar or structure. Remember, bullets can penetrate wood, glass, and even bricks.
  • If possible, hide in a safe room and lock the door
  • Put your phone on silent and wait for the first responders to arrive.

Who do I call if I suspect there is a terrorist threat in my office/apartment?

Contact the police (PDRM) by dialling 999. 

  • If you were hiding in a locked room, confirm the existence of police with the operator when someone knocks on the door, telling you it is safe to come out.
  • Even after you have escaped the building, remember to stay vigilant. Stay away from public areas, especially public transportation stations as there might be a follow-up/secondary attack in the surrounding area.

Someone has been hurt in the attack/cross-fire. What can I do while waiting for help to arrive?

  • This is why organisational training is especially important. Just as how certain employees are tasked with specific roles, such as Floor Marshalls and First-Aiders, in case of a fire, there should be crisis managers for terror incidents too.

Anti-terror training should be made mandatory for companies, as they have a social obligation to keep their employees safe. (Image Source: Pixabay)
  • Keep a first aid kit in your workplace and in your car, this will dramatically increase survival chances if you or your colleague/loved one is injured.

Other helpful tips

  • Be vigilant of your surroundings – if you notice people around you choking or collapsing there may be some poisonous chemical or gas present in the air, so cover your mouth and nose and move away as far as you can.
  • Avoid the windows, if you hear there is a bomb/active shooter threat – Explosions and bullets will shatter glass, flying shrapnel will cause serious injury.
  • If you are under attack while in a restaurant/ café/ store, use your car key to sound your car alarm. This will notify the crowd outside that something is amiss or scare the gunman away.
  • Practise being more observant of your surroundings. Make it a point to disengage from your mobile/iPod from time to time and take note of what is going on around you. That extra seconds or 1-2 minutes could save your life.
  • It is not recommended to fight unless you have some sort of training. Most assailants will either be wearing body armour and/or work in a team.
  • Be well informed of terror threats, keep yourself updated with what is reported in the news/by government authorities.

NOTE: The IACSP currently provides Terrorism Awareness Programmes for both the public and private sectors. Find out more at

*Featured Image: Getty

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