IN the wake of the Jakarta terrorist attacks last week, a Malaysian minister named popular Kuala Lumpur tourist sites that were purportedly being targeted by Islamic State (IS) militants.
“Among the places that they are targeting include the Kuala Lumpur city centre, Bukit Bintang, Publika, Solaris, Hartamas, Bangsar and The Curve,” said Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, according to the New Straits Times.
His remarks sparked widespread concern and outrage in a country already on the edge after the attacks in neighboring Indonesia and the reported arrest of a would-be suicide bomber in the nation’s capital.
According to news reports, Malaysian authorities said a 28-year-old man was nabbed Friday at a Kuala Lumpur monorail station, mere hours before he was to blow himself up at an entertainment venue – a bar or nightclub.
The Federal Territories minister came under withering criticism for unnecessarily causing panic and contributing to tensions in the city. Many pointed out that he did not have a security portfolio and should leave such announcements to the police.
— Shahnon Salleh (@shahnonsalleh) January 17, 2016
sister in KL whose office is located in one of the 'hotspots' mentioned by @TengkuAdnanReal feels worried this morning. good job Ku Nan.
— Norm (@normgn) January 17, 2016
I think we should follow what the security forces like @PDRMsia tell us about these terrorist threats. Not politicians.
— dr Syahredzan (@syahredzan) January 17, 2016
Meanwhile, Malaysian police took pains to reiterate that the capital was safe from attacks.
In an apparent rebuke of the minister, a top official said “We are not sure where Datuk Seri Adnan got his information from.”
“As far as we are concerned, security at all public places has been intensified and we are doing all we can in monitoring suspicious movements and maintaining public order,” said Kuala Lumpur police chief Tajudin Md Isa to The Star.
Another top police official urged the public not to spread rumors of ISIS targets in the country. The police never identified specific locations of potential terrorist attacks, noted the Inspector-General of Police Secretariat’s Assistant Head (corporate communications) Asmawati Ahmad.
Regardless, Kuala Lumpur remains in a state of unease. On Sunday, two unattended backpacks in a popular shopping mall, Pavilion, triggered a scare and an investigation by the police bomb squad. Eventually, it was discovered that the backpacks contained clothes, and were left there by two Korean tourists who wanted to go shopping.