Whenever news of communal clashes in their homeland reaches here, factory worker Soe Kyaw Kyaw will stay alert whenever he goes out.
He said there was always the fear that he could be attacked by his countrymen using helmets or being kicked to the ground while cycling on the road.
“It causes anxiety among us whenever there’s news about conflict between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar,” he said at his flat in Taman Juru, Bukit Mertajam.
“There would be confrontation and physical harassment – but not to the extent of taking someone’s life.”
In recent months, the growing number of Myanmar nationals killed in Penang has caused anxiety among the community and locals here.
Kyaw Kyaw, who has been staying here for eight years, said he liked his neighbourhood, but he heard “horror” stories about his friends staying in other districts.
“Two of my friends were robbed in Bukit Tengah and one of them was killed,” said Kyaw Kyaw.
“The one who survived the attack has since flown home,” he said, adding that in most instances, fights or arguments between Myanmar nationals only occurred if one was drunk.
Another Myanmar national Naing Lin, 23, said he felt safe here.
“My four years in Malaysia have been incident-free,” he said.
Despite the find of a headless and legless body at a car park near here, joggers and hikers at the Penang Botanic Gardens claimed that the crime rate in Penang was not alarming.
Company administrator Wendy Chong, 26, cited the gruesome murder on Thursday as an isolated case.
“I find it safe to jog here. I come here almost daily and I have never heard of any crime happening in the area – except for this one,” she said.
H.C. Lee, 67, said the Botanic Gardens was still his preferred choice for a morning walk.
“The woman had been killed before her body was dumped here,” he said.
“If you ask me, I still find the place peaceful.”
Firemen Mohd Ali Ahmad, 38, said he even went on hikes at the gardens during the night.
“Policemen often patrol the area,” he said.