Feb 17, 2015
Police Harassment in Kuala Lumpur
GPS waypoint: 3°08'33.5"N 101°41'50.6"E
Location: Lorong Bandar 22 near Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A Mexican Tourist's Ordeal
In Feb 1, 2015 at the City Gallery in Dataran Merdeka, I had a casual talk with a lady Mexican traveler who told me she was harassed and detained by the Kuala Lumpur police. She originally planned on staying a few days, but after her trauma, she couldn't wait to leave Kuala Lumpur. According to her, the police, without any probable cause approached her and her friend and demanded to see their passport. In compliance, she handed it to them. She asked what the problem was, and was rudely told that they were the police and can do anything they wanted. Both were taken to the police station were they were detained for no apparent reason - no explanation was given. They were horrified at what the police will do to them. After a few hours, the passports were given to them and they were let go - no explanation, no apology. I felt really bad for her but thought that it was an isolated case...until it happened to me.
In Feb 17, 2015 at around 8:30pm along the unlit section of Lorong Bandar 22 near corner Jalan Sultan, around 5 men in black t-shirt, 2 of them on motorcycles, surrounded me. They identified themselves as police and demanded to see my passport. One flashed an ID and quickly put it back inside his shirt. It was too dark for me to see anyway.
I asked them what the problem was. The one guy who did all the talking didn't offer any explanation. He just kept repeating that they were the police and demanded my passport. I had my passport with me but the moment I hand it to them, I would essentially be their hostage. I refused and insisted that they explain to me why they were doing this. No explanation was given. He said I should come with them to the police station if I will not hand them my passport.
Letting Me Off the Hook
In a louder voice to attract attention, I told them to come with me instead to my hotel - where there are people, where there are lights and where there are CCTV cameras, and I will show them all the documents they wanted to see. It was a stalemate. They repeated their demands as they closed-in on me. I repeatedly told them to go to my hotel. Passersby were curious what was happening. When a crowd was beginning to form, the guy said he'll let me go this time and they all left. I was shaken by the incident.
My entire 30-day stay in Kuala Lumpur would have been perfect if not for this incident that still leaves me unsettled. It's bad enough that you get victimized by the bad guys - because you can always go to the police for help. But where do you go if the police themselves are the criminal elements of society? It's a frightening spectre.
First of all, I am convinced they were real Kuala Lumpur police given the story of my Mexican acquaintance. Secondly, even though they never talked about money, the intention is crystal clear - they intimidate you, frustrate you and put increasing pressure until you, on your own volition, would offer them money just to let it all stop. Extortion is a classic police modus operandi.
I feel bad for the 2 victims I see here:
- tourist victims - these people spent time and money to discover Kuala Lumpur's glossy offering and they get traumatized in the process by unscrupulous policemen who prey on them. Will they come back? I don't think so. Will I come back? I don't think so.
- people behind Kuala Lumpur's tourism campaign - Kuala Lumpur is one of the tourist-friendliest cities I've ever visited, equalled perhaps by Hong Kong. With the city's tourism campaign, they offer free bus rides (Go KL buses), give out free city maps all over the city and give out free walking tours (Little India, Merdeka Square, etc.). Obviously, they take their work seriously and work hard at it. What happens to all that effort when bad policemen undermine their efforts by extorting money from the helpless tourists? The tourists don't come...and all that tourism effort and money is unrealized.
I hope the government takes serious measures to keep these scourge of society where they belong - in jail.
Where it happened:
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
KL Tower - dine at the revolving restaurant (3°09'10.3"N 101°42'13.7"E)
Petronas Twin Towers - once the world's tallest building (3°09'28.4"N 101°42'41.8"E)
Batu Caves -Hindus take pilgrimage to this cave
Kuala Lumpur Bird Park - world largest free-flight walk-in bird park, 920, Jalan Cenderawasih, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, 21 acres (8 ha), 9:00 am - 6:00 pm, phone: +60 3-2272 1010, adult admission CurrencyCurrencyABBR 48, http://www.klbirdpark.com
Aquaria KLCC - ocean aquarium under the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in Jalang Pinang, open daily from 10:30am - 8:00pm, check schedule for Piranha feeding, adult admission RM50, +603 2333 1975 / 1976 / 1977 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
China Town - for authentic Chinese cuisine, night market, bustling activities, history and culture
- Yum Cha Cafe - coffee, food, desserts
143 Jalan Petaling, Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur | 012-639 8222 | 08:30 - 18:30 | 3°08'29.7"N 101°41'52.4"E
- Arabesque - middle Eastern cuisine
92, Jalan Petaling, Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur - 3°08'34.4"N 101°41'52.5"E
- take a the red AirBus to the KL Sentral train station, 48 kms, MYR 10/pax
- from KL Sentral train station, take the purple Monorail (it's actually a 5-min walk outside the station) to Bukit Bintang, 5 stops, MYR 35/pax
- the tourist area where most of the night outdoor hawker-style eateries and bars are located along the Jalan Alor Street area and Jalan Changkat (one of many)
- Train - KL Sentral is the center for the city's urban rail-commmute system although they are not integrated. Tickets are required separately for each system and interchanges are not conveniently connected. The rechargeable Touch & Go stored value card (MYR10 deposit) which are available at all LRT stations, can be used at the electronic gates to the LRT, train and monorail systems. Trains are more practical than buses when commuting within city limits.
- Monorail systems
- KLIA Transit
- KLIA Ekspres
- KTM Komuter
- Bus - At the Jalan Sultan Mohammed bus stop in Chinatown, there is a booth where you can pick up info on routes, schedules, stops and buy season tickets. Maximun single fare is MYR1.
- Hop-on Hop-off - city tour, MYR 45/24 hours and MYR 79/48 hours, 2.5 hours loop, bus frequency every 20-30 mins, kids below 5 years are free
- Metro Bus -
- KL Go City - free shuttle bus around KL. Purple Line ends at KLCC, Green Line ends at China Town (Petaling Street)
- Rapid KL - convenient to use as their destinations are clearly displayed (1 800 388 228 / www.rapidkl.com.my)
- Taxi - meter starts at RM2 for the first kilometre, and 10 sen for each additional 200m or 45 seconds. They are all over the place and relatively cheap. There are designated taxi stops within the city but some empty taxis can be flagged down on the street. rom 12 midnight to 6am, 50% surcharge is levied on the metered fare, and extra passengers over two, are charged 20 sen each. Luggage placed in the boot is an extra RM1 and there's an RM12 surcharge for taxis to KLIA. The airport has a coupon system where you pay in advance.
- the tourist area where most of the night outdoor hawker-style eateries and bars are located along the Jalan Alor Street area and Jalan Changkat in Bukit Bintang, and along Jalan Petaling in China Town
- transit map of Kuala Lumpur
- Petronas Twin Towers - once the world's tallest building (3°09'28.4"N 101°42'41.8"E)
- KL Tower - dine at the revolving restaurant (3°09'10.3"N 101°42'13.7"E)
- Batu Caves - Hindus take pilgrimage to this cave
- Kuala Lumpur City Tour - lose yourself in KL's old neighborhoods and be amazed at the new neighborhoods. Visit Chinatown and the oldest Hindu Temple
- Putrajaya at Night - this well-planned city illuminates at night...perfect for dining by Putrajaya Lake
- Kuala Lumpur Bird Park - world largest free-flight walk-in bird park, 920, Jalan Cenderawasih, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, 21 acres (8 ha), 9:00 am - 6:00 pm, phone: +60 3-2272 1010, adult admission MYR 48, http://www.klbirdpark.com
- Aquaria KLCC - ocean aquarium under the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in Jalang Pinang, open daily from 10:30am - 8:00pm, check schedule for Piranha feeding, adult admission RM50, +603 2333 1975 / 1976 / 1977 or email at email@example.com
- Bukit Bintang - aka Bintang Walk or Starhill, a district in Kuala Lumpur known for shopping, entertainment, hawker-type eateries, al-fresco cafés, swanky bars and night market
Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Ticket Price - adult MYR80, adult (MyKad) MYR25, child MYR30 and child (MyKid) MYR12
- Operations - Tuesday to Sunday (closed every Monday), open on all public holidays with the exception of Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji
- Hours - 9am - 9pm (closed from 1pm - 2.30pm on Fridays)
- Ticketing Counter - Concourse level, PETRONAS Twin Towers. Issuing of tickets will start from 8:30am (tickets are limited and issued on a first come, first served basis). Advance purchase is available.
FREE Stuff in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur rivals Hong Kong as one of the most tourist-friendly destinations in Southeast Asia. Wherever you go in KL, you see a free tourist map with guided walking tours, transit info, etc. People have a better command of English than Thailand, Vietnam, laos or Cambodia. But to just to make things even better for the traveler, here are a few FREE stuff you'll find in KL to make your visit more comfortable, more memorable and more engaging.
- FREE bus rides - free shuttle bus around KL's Central Business District with KL Go Buses. Purple Line ends at KLCC, Green Line ends at China Town (Petaling Street)
- FREE wine tasting - at Cronier Wines, every Friday from 17:00 - 18:00, reservations are required, 5-6 The One Avenue, Pelangi Utama Condominium, PJU 6A, Jalan Masjid, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Tel: +603 7722 2252 or +6014 965 1037
- FREE art gallery admission - at Petronas Art Gallery, 10:00 - 20:00 Tuesday - Sunday, Lot 341 - 343, Level 3, Suria KLCC, PETRONAS Twin Towers, +603 2051 7770
- FREE bicycle rides - 07:00 - 10:00am Sundays at The Square, Publika, Solaris Dutamas, 1.2 km loop
- FREE movie screenings
- Palate Palette - classic films, documentaries, shorts and romantic comedies + free seaweed snack, select nights, 21, Jalan Mesui, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 03-2142 2148
- Moontree House - discontinued until further notice!!! Sundays from 18:30 - 21:00 near Petaling Street, Chinatown, feminist-oriented big screen titles
- Publika - call first as this may have been discontinued!!! at Publika every Monday night, Malaysian and regional films, in English or with English subtitles / Level U2, Block C5, Solaris Dutamas, No 1, Jalan Dutamas 1 / 03 6207 9426 or 03 7960 1235
- FREE rock climbing - at Batu Caves, but bring your own gear. Over 160 climbing routes sprinkled on 150 meters of limestone hill face. Come early to get your spot for your level of expertise
- FREE food tasting sessions - weekly at KL's best restaurants, with Open Rice's Makan Ventures. You need to go through a selection process though to qualify. First, be a member of Open Rice.
- FREE walking tours
- Kampong Bharu - the cradle of Malay culture in Kuala Lumpur, Tue/Thurs/Sunday, registration time 4:15pm - 4:30pm, walking tour 4:30pm to 7:00pm, 1 day advance booking recommended, 603 2698 0332, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Brickfields Heritage Walk - Tourism Unit, KL at - 03 2698 0332 - email: email@example.com., Saturdays, meeting at Vivekananda Ashram at 9:00-11:30am, 2.5 hour walk
- Dataran Merdeka Heritage Guided Walk - get the inside stories behind the independence of Malaysia through the historic buildings and monuments around Dataran Merdeka / Mondays-Wednesdays-Saturdays / 8:30-11:45am at Kuala Lumpur City Gallery / 603 2698 0332 / pelancongan@@dbkl.gov.my
- FREE garden park admission - on weekdays (weekends are not free) at the Kuala Lumpur Lake Gardens, 230 acres including the Hibiscus Garden, Orchid Garden and Deer Park, bring snacks and water
- FREE Kundalini Meditation - 6:30pm Tuesdays at Vivekananda Ashram on Jalan Tun Sambanthan, Brickfields (Little India) / 03 2722 5051, 53 012 379 1324
(US$1 = MYR (Malaysian Ringgit) 3.59 = Php 44.23, as of Jan. 23, 2015)
best place to change US dollars to MYR is at the local money changers, not in airports, specially not from the airport of your departure (e.g. US$1 = MYR 2.95 at Da Nang Airport, MYR 3.35 at KL Airport and 3.55 at the money changers in KL)
- 1.5 liter drinking water
- one hour massage
- noodle soup with meat
- rice meal
- dorm bed
- sugar cane juice
- Petronas Twin Towers ticket
- bus/monorail ride from airport to Bukit Bintang
- Malaysians have a better command of English than Vietnamese, Thai, Cambodians or Laotians
- Malaysians will not accept US$ unlike Cambodia. Best to exchange your dollars to MYR (ringgit)at money changers (not airports, since airport rates are dismal)
- Malays comprise half of the population while a quarter are Chinese and 6% Indians
- Islam is the predominant religion, followed by Buddhism. Christianity is 9%
- Malaysians drive on the left of the street
- when introduced, best to gently smile and nod to a lady instead of shaking her hand, unless she initiates it
- remove shoes when entering a Malaysian home or any place of worship
- it is polite to accept a drink when offered to you as a house guest - do not refuse
- give and receive object using right hand. When eating with hands, use the right hand
- the large Muslim population of Malaysia do not drink alcohol
- Malaysia uses standard 3-pin square plugs and sockets. Adaptors can be purchase at around MYR6
- no kissing in public
- never behave that will make the other person lose face...best to be subtle and calm, don't lose lose your temper
- be mindful of the foot. Don't point your foot to the other guy or move things with your foot. It is considered disrespectful
- point with your right thumb with fingers folded instead of pointing with your index finger
- ethnic relations and politics are sensitive areas in Malaysia. Best not to bring it up.
- when invited to a Malaysian home, it is customary to bring a small gift. Offer it with your right hand.
- don't touch the top of the head of anyone. The head is considered the soul's temple
Tourism Malaysia(Mar 2, 2015) Thank you for highlighting us on this matter and sorry for the inconveniences you went through. Please to inform that, we have forwarded your e-mail to our Complaint Management for their kind assistance.
- Cool Climate of Cameron Highlands June 19-23, 2016
- Overnight in Kluang, Malaysia Aug 13-14, 2016
- Funky Flow Yoga with Lora Lorenzo at YogaOneThatIWant Studios July 27, 2016
- Deja Vu Kuala Lumpur with Karine July 21-26, 2016
- Layover in Kuala Lumpur June 22, 2016
- The Kuala Lumpur Experience Jan 21 - Feb 20, 2015
- Police Harassment in Kuala Lumpur Feb 17, 2015
- Visiting Batu Caves of Kuala Lumpur Feb 18, 2015
- Walking Tour of China Town Feb 5, 2015
- Breaking New Ground in Kuala Lumpur Jan 21, 2015
- Goodbye and Thank You Kuantan Apr 13, 2018
- Visiting the Masjid Sultan Ahmad Shah Mosque Apr 10, 2018
- Visiting the Pahang Art Museum Apr 3, 2018
- Beach Fun at Teluk Cempedak April 1, 2018
- Visiting the Kuantan Mini Zoo April 1, 2018
- High Intensity Interval Training Apr 1, 2018
- Fitness in Kuantan Mar 29, 2018
- Exploring Kuantan, Malaysia Mar 25-, 2018
- Hanging-Out in Kuantan with the Guangzhou 5 Mar 25-26, 2018
- Satipatthana Sutta Vipassana Mar 16-25, 2018
- The 24-Hr Trip from Loboc (Philippines) to Gambang (Malaysia) Mar 15-16, 2018
- A First-Timer in Malacca July 28-Aug 8, 2016
- Art Scene of Malacca August 6, 2016
- The River Charm of Malacca August 5, 2016
- About Malacca July 28, 2016
- Penang (Malaysia) Immersion May 27-Jun 19, 2016
- Exploring the Emergent Cafe Culture of Penang Jun 18, 2016
- Encounters with the Guru-Types of Penang Jun 17, 2016
- Overnight Camping at Turtle Beach Jun 10, 2016
- Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation in Penang Jun 10, 2016
- Daytrip to Batu Ferringhi Jun 9, 2016
- Savouring the Food of Penang May 27 - Jun 6, 2016
- Surreal Glow-in-the-Dark 3D World at Dark Mansion June 3, 2016
- The Animated Street Art of Penang Jun 3, 2016
- Exploring the Lush Greenery of Botanic Gardens May 29, 2016
- Up up and Away to Penang Hill May 28, 2016
- About Penang May 27, 2016
(Feb 28, 2015) That's scary!
(Feb 28, 2015) wow!!! hasel yan 'git!!!
(Feb 28, 2015) You don't expect it in KL. Should be a red face among the brass
(Feb 28, 2015) be safe gigit.
(Feb 28, 2015) Stay clear of dark alleys. Good you were able to think on your feet.
(Feb 28, 2015) hmmm interesting
Ricky Soler Jr
(Feb 28, 2015) Wow. Terrible. You mentioned a crowd was beginning to form? Tourists or locals or mixed? This is a serious concern that should be publicized so that other travelers to Malaysia are advised ahead of time and they can avoid going out at night and maybe avoid going to KL na lang. Thanks for your blog. Will share.
"You mentioned a crowd was beginning to form? Tourists or locals or mixed?" -- Ricky Soler Jr(Mar 1, 2015)
They were just silhouettes, but I remember the Chinese store keeper watching the whole thing...his back door was open and the indoor light was cast on him.
(Feb 28, 2015) Ingat!
(Feb 28, 2015) What a terrible and scary sounding incident. Good on you for keeping your cool and not giving in bybl giving over your passport (power). And good quick thinking about the hotel and drawing attention. Im very curious....between you and the Mexican girl. They have chosen interesting marks to pick on. I wonder if people from say... Canada, or the US have or would received similar treatment... I'm glad u were able to avoid any further complication. Interesting. Ya I dont know. Im assuming if you're dirty in that way you don't discriminate. It was just another angle I was curious about. As a Canadian, I think I'd be very tempted to go to the consulate after an incident like that. For all the good it would do.... But if it's happening a lot among travellers it might be worth reporting. At the very least, I hope you don't find yourself interested in any more dark alleys... Stay safe.
"Im very curious....between you and the Mexican girl. They have chosen interesting marks to pick on. I wonder if people from say... Canada, or the US have or would received similar treatment" -- Rosemarie Gendive(Mar 1, 2015)
The Mexican also looked Malay but her friend was Black. Both were taken to the Police Station. Not sure if the dirty cops prey on Caucasians. Normally, I'd go to the police. But since the police are the criminals here, I sent a copy of the blog to Tourism Malaysia - the national tourism organization (NTO) responsible for promoting Malaysia as a tourist destination. I hope they take action.
(Feb 28, 2015) Yikes! glad you got out of that one unscathed.
Brian Tan Seng
(Feb 28, 2015) Good presence of mind. I'll remember this if coming to KL. Thanks for sharing.
Jessie Villabona Severino
(Feb 28, 2015) According to someone who has lived there, these incidents happen in Kuala Lumpur.
Anna Maria Gonzales
(Feb 28, 2015) Hi Gigit! I hope Tourism Malaysia takes action. Hi Andrew J. Sebastian
, our friends should know about this. These incidents undermine Tourism Malaysia's wonderful efforts!
"These incidents undermine Tourism Malaysia's wonderful efforts!" -- Anna(Mar 1, 2015)
Anna, true. Kuala Lumpur is a beautiful place. Given all my travels, it's one of the most tourist-friendly given all the work tourism did. And these dirty cops undermine all that. If everyone who reads this, "Share" it, it may cause enough public attention to prompt the authorities to act on it. Personally, I don't think this rampant practice could be happening without them knowing it. They must know this is happening, but have not taken the necessary action. I hope this posting gives them the motivation.
(Mar 1, 2015) Ingat ka Gigit.
Santanina Aina Gapatan
(Mar 1, 2015) This is really frightening.. Thanks for sharing your experience
(Mar 2, 2015) oh my...time to set off ..tsk tsk tsk
(Mar 2, 2015) since you already publicized the incident, I suggest you leave the country now and go somewhere safer. Am scratching KL on my vacay list for now, till incidents like these are addressed.
"I suggest you leave the country now" -- Consolacion Zaldivar(Mar 2, 2015)
I'm already out of Malaysia
Feb 17, 2015
»» next Traveling story: The Kuala Lumpur Experience
»» back to Traveling
»» back to Homepage