Dealing with emergency situations in Malaysia

Hello everybody,

Dealing with unexpected situations abroad can be a very difficult matter. In order to better help expats and soon-to-be expats in Malaysia face such tricky situations, we invite you to share your advice and experience.

What are the key emergency numbers you should know by heart?

In the event of a legal problem, an accident, a natural disaster, an injury or the death of a close family member, what are the first things to do in Malaysia?

What are the things to plan ahead in order to better cope with such unexpected situations (registration at the Embassy, transport, medical, comprehensive insurance for instance)?

If you have gone through such experiences in Malaysia, do not hesitate to share your story.

Thank you in advance!


If you are in a serious enough situation in Malaysia, the best thing is to go to Singapore.
Unfortunately, medical facilities and doctors are not of international standards in Malaysia. I know the case of 2 families (one of them had a very serious problem with a young child). They went to the top private hospital in KL and it was a disaster. After one week, they still had no idea what was going on...  They called their international assistance company. They sent someone to the hospital and after talking with doctors, they decided of an emergency transfer.
Problem was found and solved in 48hours in Singapore.
Sorry to say, but the vast majority of doctors are very average here. I know lots of people with medical issues or complication after surgery due to infection and lack of proper cleaning, nurse care.
If anything would happen to my family, I would immediately transfer them to Singapore.
Sorry, my comment will not give any tip to who could help in Malaysia...

Emergencies take many forms in at least the categories of medical, legal, familial and personal like robberies. And, how urgent is urgent?

If you are doubled over in pain, you wont be boarding an airplane for  medical help. If your daughter is kidnapped, whats your next step? How would you survive a home invasion wherein everyone is beaten to pieces? How about a car accident in which you kill a pedestrian?

Its impossible to plan for all emergencies and while its great that someone else may help you in a bad moment, always figure you are mostly on your own with your own resources.

But do this:
1) Make friends with a policeman or two, someone you know will take your call in the middle of the night, if needed. Police have vast resources at their fingertips and through their teamwork and network can accomplish almost anything. This includes, but is not limited to intervening to get you out of a scrape or quickly setting mechanisms in motion to get your stolen car back.

2) By the same token, get a lawyer, sooner or later you will likely need one. Lawyers know what to do and have resources. How to exactly do this? Just walk in when you see the office signboard on the street. Tell them who you are, why you are here in Malaysia, who is here with you, possible reasons why you would need them. Discuss emergencies.

3) Make local friends of all races. When you have an emergency they will guide and help you, make arrangements, drive you if necessary. A local friend knows that you do not know to do, thats the whole point.

4) Numbers. You should have 999 in your head and numbers in the phone for friends, police, your doctor, fire department. AND, taxi driver friends you have made. Taxi drivers, I dont mean the PUBLIC company or Grabtaxi, but handphone numbers of drivers you can call at any hour.

Emergencies can take any form and happen at any time. You cannot be expected to know everything or what to do in all circumstances. Dont worry. Its precisely through networking that things get done, after all thats the way the locals do it themselves.

That said, the most common emergency will likely be a legal one, not a medical one. Yes, you can have a heart attack or appendicitis but its not probable and therefore extreme measures like medical evacuation are not things you have to think hard about. If you suffer an immediate medical need call 999 and they will send an ambulance. They will take you to the nearest hospital and if seconds count, dont fight that it may not be your favorite hospital. Otherwise get to a private, not government hospital. But legal problems, this is probable and likely.

In this vein there is something important to know about the country in general and government agencies in particular and thats that everyone either knows each other or is related to each other. Ive carried on a friendship with a policeman for three years. I also have a friendship with a female policeman. Last week I learned they are father and daughter. Was I shocked? Nope. I laughed. And that relationship just now helped me expedite the solution to a problem. The fireman you know? I will rightly guess his sister is a head nurse at one of the hospitals who can expedite a medical solution. That immigration friend you have? Likely, he has 40 family members also working in immigration. You see the obvious value of friends and networking. Keep upping your contacts of all types. you never know..... Everything in Malaysia runs on relationships and who you know. So start knowing them!

What kind of relationships? Any kind. But I'll tell you this. Malaysians and Thai are a proud and sensitive lot, given to (i think) an unreasonable fear of outsiders who they believe look down on them. When you are sincere, appreciative, complimentary when needed, you truly cannot believe how far they will go to help. When you are pompous and arrogant and un-humble, they pick that up fast and i promise you that your problems will have just begun.

Im fortunate that I have not yet had a dire emergency but I have more or less planned for them. I do have someone to call, someone who would know an answer and likely do something about it. Thats going to increase the chance of survival.

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