PETALING JAYA • A spate of shootings recently in Malaysia, mostly fatal and believed to be carried out by hired killers, has caused jitters among its people, and many are looking for ways to protect themselves.
Most of the cases involved drivers who were shot at close range when they were inside their vehicles.
There have at least 11 reported shooting cases on Malaysian roads since the beginning of the year, leaving a trail of eight bodies.
This has given rise to an increased interest in car bulletproofing as revealed by the high number of inquiries about it, but many were put off by the high cost.
Bulletproof-glass manufacturers have reported a 10-fold spike in inquiries from the public on retrofitting their cars with special armour.
SecuGlass owner Ho Chong Choai, 49, said his company received 10 to 20 calls a day inquiring about car bulletproofing following multiple shooting cases in July.
"The basic upgrade that covers only the windows and the car doors of one car cost around RM60,000 (S$20,000) to RM90,000.
"However, potential customers were mostly turned away by the high cost," he told The Star.
He said fortifying windows in banks, embassies, prisons and armoured vehicles form the bulk of his business.
Bulletproof glass, which is also known as ballistic glass, is a type of strong but optically transparent material that is resistant when struck by bullets.
A typical bullet resistant piece of glass that can withstand three shots from a 9mm semi-automatic handgun from 3m away is RM2,700 per sq m.
One victim, Datuk R. Sri Sanjeevan, chairman of anti-crime watchdog MyWatch, went into a coma after being shot in his car.
One of his priorities, he said after he came out of his coma in 2013, was to bulletproof his car.
But three years later and still sporting surgical scars from his close shave with death, Datuk Sanjeevan said he is still driving around with regular car windows.
"They are just too expensive," he said. "I went around asking. But everything was over RM100,000."
"How can I afford it?" asked Datuk Sanjeevan, who was recently released after a month-long detention for alleged extortion and criminal intimidation.
According to the Road Transport Department and vehicle inspection company Puspakom, bulletproofing a vehicle does not require regulating or licensing.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK