Demand for bodyguards on the rise in Malaysia

Rigorous training: Super Force personnel undergoing training (above). The company says fifty of its guards served with the UN peace keeping force in Lebanon.

This year has been a tough one for Malaysians when it comes to crime. Despite the best efforts of the Royal Malaysian Police to reduce crime, many Malaysians are still not feeling safe.

According to official statistics, for the first nine months of this year, there were 4,436 violent assault cases compared to 6,244 cases for the whole of 2012.

Meanwhile, there have already been 15,375 cases of violent robbery, including gang and armed robberies, from January to September this year, compared with 20,140 for all of last year.

Despite the police coming down hard on criminals, some Malaysians are still opting for private security services to protect themselves.

According to the Security Services Association of Malaysia, the number of certified security companies has tripled over the past decade to 712 from 200 and the demand for personal guards has soared.

One company that has seen a rise in business this year is Super Force Security Services Sdn Bhd.

Incorporated in September 1995 with the aim of providing wide range of security related services to various customer groups in the industry, Super Force currently provides security services for the IT infrastructure of office buildings, residential areas, commercial complexes, hotels, shopping malls, construction sites, education centres, business entities and their various installations, community projects, social and corporate personalities, multinationals and government agencies among others.

However, it is the company's personal bodyguard service that has seen the most significant rise. "There has been an overall rise in demand for guards. Depending on the agency, some are experiencing between 50 per cent and 200 per cent increase in business," said Super Force chief executive Wan Asmadi Wan Ahmad Najib who got his start in the industry as a bodyguard himself.

To serve and protect

The Kelantan-born Wan Asmadi is a qualified anti-hijack team commander and a member of the International Association of Trainers in Aggression Management (IATAM).

Having been through rigorous regimented orientations in the course of performing his assignments over the years, Wan Asmadi said being a bodyguard is not an easy task.

"Our role is to always protect the client and neutralise danger," said Wan Asmadi, who is a trainer for the Malaysian Body Guarding Association (MBA), assuming the role as lead instructor in tactical shooting, body guarding, executive protection and motorcades.

"We don't just shadow our clients. We need to know the area that we visiting, extradition points and be alert at all times. Our first priority is survival," he added.

Wan Asmadi says that bodyguards must be trained in ethics to provide clients with a good service.

"Before a bodyguard is assigned, we have a discussion with the client to understand their needs and requirements. Some may want their bodyguards to stay with them so we need iron out all the details," said Wan Asmadi.

Handpicked by the board of directors of Super Force to lead the organisation, Wan Asmadi revealed that a client has to fork out between RM8,000 and RM12,000 a month for 12-hours-a-day protection, excluding overtime.

Super Force also has an elite escort team that provides protection services for high-net-worth individuals.

"Our elite escort team members are trained in scouting activities, surveillance, hazard and threat identification, short distance shooting, tactical shooting, ambush protection, retrieval and evacuation procedures and motorcade procedures," said Wan Asmadi.

He added that a client will be able to receive a bodyguard within seven days.

Dealing with threats

Super Force's adviser Datuk Seri Dr Vincent Tiew said bodyguards are not recruited traditionally.

"This is not an easy job. Firstly, they have to know what their role is. After that, they need to be in good physical shape and strong mentally," said Tiew.

"We usually get our men and women through word of mouth and recommendations," he added.

Most bodyguards are usually ex-army and ex-police personnel and they have to undergo a three-month course with Super Force to become a bodyguard.

Super Force at present has a workforce consisting of 150 Nepalese guards, 150 local security personnel and 20 administrative staff.

"Fifty of our Nepalese guards have served with the United Nations in Lebanon. They are certified by the British Embassy in Nepal and most of them are ex-servicemen," said Tiew.

According to Tiew, there is also a market for female bodyguards in Malaysia,.

They too undergo the same training as men and most of them are able to do as well as the men.

According to news site Reddif Business, the number of millionaire households in Malaysia was expected to increase from 76,000 to 249,000 between 2011 and 2020, a growth rate of 228 per cent.

Reddiff also quoted a study by Deloitte that estimated the number of individuals with net worths between RM3.2mil to RM16mil in Malaysia is likely to see the greatest growth, at 305 per cent, while those worth RM16mil to RM96mil will likely grow between 47 per cent and 100 per cent, over the next decade.

With the number of high-net-worth individuals on the rise, the close protection industry is expected to flourish in Malaysia.

However, Tiew says people have to always understand, being a real life bodyguard is not the same as the ones in the movies and realise they are not Kevin Costner.