Malaysia tycoon: 'I feel safer with a personal bodyguard'

Staying safe: Malaysian High Commissioner to the UK Datuk Zakaria Sulong (second from left), Chico Force (M) Sdn Bhd CEO Datuk Seri Khoo Gee Chong and bodyguards taking part in a mock security drill.

PETALING JAYA - Having an armed bodyguard accompanying him to public places makes him feel "much safer", a successful businessman said.

The prominent personality, who only wanted to be known as Datuk Seri Tan, hired an armed bodyguard in May after being advised to do so by the police.

"I had received threatening letters and phone calls and a friend even overheard someone saying that he would harm me," he said.

"I genuinely feared for my life. Now, looking at the increase in violent crimes, I'm thankful I decided to get an armed bodyguard."

Because it did not have sufficient firearms, the security company he hired could only provide an unarmed personnel.

Tan filled up the necessary applications so that his bodyguard would be armed.

"I was asked if I wanted the bodyguard to be seen with me or one who would just observe me from a distance. I chose the former because it keeps people away," he said.

"For some reason, I feel especially vulnerable in the evenings and while it may be a false sense of security, having a bodyguard makes me feel much safer," he added.

Initially, his family was not keen on having an armed bodyguard around but now understood the necessity, he said.

Describing his bodyguard as "my shadow", Tan said the man would come to his home every morning and waited outside the office when he worked.

"When I walk, he follows. When I'm at the kopitiam, he'll sit at the next table. It's uncomfortable, but I'm paying the price for having a recognisable face," he said.

Tan said top management personnel are at risk because people could find out how much they were worth by simply checking a company's annual report.

"Many of my friends have now engaged armed bodyguards," he said.