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Goodbye Kuala Lumpur - Hello Singapore

Monday, 18 March 2013 by Irene Hoofs

{I Dream poster by Anna Emilia}

Lovely readers… I feel I have not let you in on some, very exciting news I think…it has been so hectic these last couple of weeks or months actually that I really only now find the time to tell you more about this… in short – after having lived in KL for almost six years, we moved to Singapore – we only arrived last week so I consider myself lucky I have my internet connection sorted (almost…). Our move to Singapore fills me with both excitement and, I must admit, some sadness. Exciting because my new home-town is absolutely buzzing with creative vibes and is home to many of my online friends. It has beautiful architecture, is clean and provides for a safe environment for my two (three...) Boys. 

I feel sad to leave behind the many good friends I’ve made in KL over the years – local, international or some combination of both – KL is a true melting pot of cultures and people which is what I love so much about that city. In addition to the amazing food and shop culture. In the past, our moves were always instigated by my husband finding yet again a job in an ‘exotic’ place, but this time, truth be told, I was the one that told my husband that we should move. Why you might think? Well, personally, I have started to feel increasingly unsafe in KL. And this not a ‘posh high maintenance expat mom’ complaining, but a genuine concern about safety is widely felt by locals and internationals alike. This sense of not being safe creeps up on you – first, you are not really aware of it but then you are suddenly overwhelmed by it when you find yourself discussing with friends (attempted) child abductions, violent break-ins, bag snatching and carjacking more or less routinely.

The British school my boys attended doubled and then seemed to have tripled the number of guards at the school gates after a Dutch boy who attended an American school was kidnapped (and later released unharmed). This case made the news, but there are many cases of child abductions (some that don’t end well) of local kids that do not make the headlines. Similarly, our gated community started to feel more like a prison – with my friends joking whether the dozens of guards were meant to keep the residents in or the bad guys out. Especially females and kids are vulnerable – all of my female friends have drivers that double – in their own words – as body guards. KL was not like this when we arrived there almost six years ago – and my friends who have lived there all their lives or much longer than we have, assure me that KL, while rough around the edges perhaps, was a friendly and safe place.

Then, very unfortunately, the risk of harm to me and my family hit very close to home – I will spare you the details but suffice to say that I and my boys have been threatened and stalked. This can happen everywhere of course, but to me that was it – I knew we had to move.  Constantly being on guard when walking around on the streets and not even daring going out by myself at night. Just simple things that I have always taken for granted, such as going to a shopping mall with my kids and doing some groceries started to feel uncomfortable and unsafe.  

Of course, this is my personal experience, and I am sure there will be Malaysians and expats that disagree wholly or partly with me. The fact is that this is indeed my experience – a bad one, among the many good experiences that I have had living in Malaysia. And just like the positive ones I wanted to share this with you in the most balanced and transparent way possible.

I always told my husband that I would follow him everywhere around the globe, but that I would never live in a place where I felt my children would be unsafe. I don’t want to be naïve as I know there are many places in this world that are unsafe, especially for kids, and many of the people that are affected by those circumstances cannot simply pack up and leave – so, yes, I consider myself very fortunate that we were able to move to Singapore. 

I do feel sad to have left Malaysia…a beautiful country with a friendly and diverse people. But I will cherish many fond memories of our time in KL, although I wish I could have moved for more positive reasons. 

So Hello Singapore! Excited and thrilled that we can start a new phase in our life. I will be sharing with you all the great things this city has to offer…starting this week with insights on local design and interesting places to visit... 



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