The fight against terror - Malaysia

Stepped-up vigilance, intelligence gathering

Police stand guard before the arrival of prime minister Najib Razak during a joint police-army exercise at a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, on Feb 22, 2016.
Police stand guard before the arrival of prime minister Najib Razak during a joint police-army exercise at a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, on Feb 22, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Security has been boosted at airports and train stations in the region and beyond after last Tuesday's Brussels bombings exposed the vulnerability of publicly accessible zones. The Sunday Times correspondents report on the measures taken.

Malaysia has already boosted security measures at transport hubs since the shoot-out and bombings in Jakarta in January.

Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamad told The Sunday Times that the authorities had been in talks with airport operators and stakeholders on security arrangements in transport hubs and public areas, including linkages to the airports and train systems over the past two months.

But there are no plans as yet to scan people entering public areas.

"At the moment, we do not have plans to restrict access to the public areas as that would create another host of problems such as crowding," Mr Nur Jazlan said.

He confirmed that the Home Ministry had deployed more police and plainclothes officers at transport hubs, and stressed that they were also focusing on intelligence to nab terror suspects.

Security has been boosted at airports and train stations in the region and beyond after last Tuesday's Brussels bombings exposed the vulnerability of publicly accessible zones. The Sunday Times correspondents report on the measures taken.

"Our Special Branch is working through intelligence, that is why we have so many arrests (of militants)," he added.

Criminologist P. Sundramoorthy said that merely increasing the police presence at transportation hubs would not make them any less vulnerable, citing the Brussels attacks as a prime example.

"The police presence only provides a sense of security to the people," he added.

Airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings said it had tightened controls over the issuance of airport security passes and increased the frequency of security patrols and other checks.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 27, 2016, with the headline 'Stepped-up vigilance, intelligence gathering'. Print Edition | Subscribe