Why is there a Kuala Lumpur Terror Alert?

Nurul Izzah


Threats might not be containable: Nurul Izzah, vice-president of the People’s Justice Party, which this week announced a new coalition with the Democratic Action Party called Pakatan Harapan, the Alliance of Hope. Khairil Yusof/Flickr

Today, I updated an essay I wrote for Inside Story, triggered by the terror alert in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend.

Malaysia’s Flashpoint

With a terror alert issued and the country’s redshirts threatening to riot, Malaysia’s intractable political crisis has come to a head, writes Amrita Malhi

With a postscript added on 27 September 2015

As Malaysia’s Muslims celebrated Hari Raya Haji – the Feast of Sacrifice – this week, American and Australian authorities warned their citizens to avoid Bukit Bintang, the popular shopping and entertainment district in central Kuala Lumpur. Authorities were especially concerned about the lively Jalan Alor eating strip, which last night remained thronged with diners enjoying Chinese food. Singapore’s Straits Times immediately linked the terror alert to warnings from Indonesia that Malaysian Islamic State fighters are known to be training in Poso, on Sulawesi. Authorities in Singapore have also recently warned that terrorist activity is again on the rise across the region. To contain the threat that terrorists pose, Indonesia and Singapore both rely heavily on Malaysia – a major transit point for foreign fighters heading for Iraq and Syria, including from Australia. Yet with the nation’s new redshirt movement warning of a possible rally and race riot this weekend, the Malaysian authorities are themselves embroiled in a serious crisis with identity politics at its heart.

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