Which part of M'sia are you going to? If East M., then I say, not too much worries. However if you are going to JB, then pray - with or without a camera, it's not too safe. However if you are going into the jungles, then it is safer. KL ???? I don't know.
I travel to Malaysia very often and with my DSLR and two lens, no problem. One small detail please take note, DO NOT bring your camera's box and etc which will make the custom officer think that you are bring in new camera into Malaysia, and you want to sell in Malaysia.
Okay here is my take on this. I go to JB at least once to twice a week as it is part of my job to visit my staff at two spas there in the central part of town. If I am with my boss, we drive in with his jaguar. If I go in on my own I take the taxi and I usualy wear jean with a tuckout tee with collar. Sport shoe like my Nike Free..nothing too flashy. The idea is to blend in...and not look like a peacock prancing around with the words "rob me " on your forehead heheh
I do this Not because the crime thing is So BAD. Yes you can get rob but you can also get rob in Singapore. Depend on the odds and your luck lah...and what measure you take to lower those odds against you. It is really not that bad. But sometime thanks to the newspaper it just seem like it is.
Many times now I have followed my boss to some ATM to draw cash without problem for years in JB and some of those ATM are located in odd places. The only time I had a theft problem was...some idiot mistake my reading glasses casing to be some Oakley case within the mesh pocket of my haversack. Well suffice to say it was lifted from my bag while I was walking at City Square window shopping. I am sure he was cursing himslef when he open it and find a pair of reading glasses which are of no value to them...it was already old and I had intention to get a new one. heheh It was my only time something like this happened. I have walked about at night from 7pm to 11pm without any problem even when I take the small, out of public view lanes and stairways to get from, for example, City Square to the Car Park where I Q to take a cab back to Singapore.
I usually put my DSLR in my haversack when I am not shooting some scene around town and I also have my manfrotto tripod with me in a black original 30 inche long Manfrotto sling bag!..Yes..with very big lettering of the brand too right across the bag. And if I was doing some shooting, I would walk with the DSLR in my bag but the tripod fully extended as I walk about looking over the scenes.
I have also taken out my camera and shot here and there and even mount it on my tripod to shoot public scene of building and road area without a care. Ya some time people watch you but then I get that in Singapore too.
Gaffer the camera? I am not that paranoid and it is not like people would not know what you are using. DSLR or SLR...if they are desparate for money the will steal whatever to sell it away for money..They will just snatch and check it later...just like what they did with my glasses in a shiny looking box. Besides, when you start to look at your LCD screen all over the place checking your shots...who is going to not notice what camera you have there. It definitely does not look like a PnS right? Let's not alway think people outside of Singapore in some small town like JB does not know what DSLR or SLR is.
I already know what I want to shoot there thus I nornmally have 3 lens with me with one being the 50mm. The two others lens are my trusty 18-70mm and 70-300mm zoom lens. I don't try to flash my stuff around and in these day and age of mobile phone, I don't even wear a watch. My D70 has follow me into JB since the day I bought it in 2004.
I always bring my camera gear with me as I am always shooting treatments at my spa or whatever to update new pictures for my company business...my camera gear is always with me and at no time was I worry. Just be smart about it. Don't try to show off... I have seen Singaporeans did just that to show the JB folks they got more money and toys. I sometime think that if trouble don't come looking for you...you better not go around looking for trouble. I suspect sometime people are not trying to steal but maybe will try to damage your stuff because you rub them the wrong way.
Bottom line. It is really not that bad. But yes take some precaution and be always thinking. A robbery or snatch theft can not occur easily if you DON'T "play" your part and help them to do so!
The same goes for KL or Penang too lah. There are also Malaysian with the means to buy DSLR too lah heheh... So many times I was roaming around and then I bump into other hobbist who are malaysia and they are totting around D2X or D200 with bigger glasses over my D70! heheh...Compare to them, I think even a dumb thief would know who to target better.
But does that mean you can swing about holding your gear outside your bag? Well I would not want to do that. Unless you are shooting..that just give people the impression you are showy with your gear. And.....yes..you might still get rob or have your gear snatch if the odds are against you that day. When not shooting keep it in your bag. Besides...it is not like there are soooo many wonderful things for you to be constantly shooting around JB. heheh..
Don't bring so much money not just because you might get robbed but also to save money...wait go there see this cheap and that cheap..end up buying a lot of rubbish hehehe...I know I did in the begining.
Sometimes it's not so much the brand of equipment you carry, but your body language that tells people if they can easily 'makan' you, or if you're someone who knows what's happening around him, and could probably take care of himself.
If you're really into streets and candids, it's best of you have a streetsmarts friend, or someone who looks intimidating if you really want to get the interesting shots, which unfortunately, often can only be found in the back lanes and seedier areas.
In short, if you're not up to it, don't risk life and limb. If you're not sure if you're up to it or not, then you probably are not. If you still want to venture, at least don't take unnecessary risks, and yes, in high risk areas, it does help if your equipment is all koyo-ed up and looks like it's being held together only by masking tape. Take it from someone who's been there before.
Actually, paste beige masking tape (most id-able) and use marker pen to un-neatly write 'NIKON' on it in different colours. That's a for sure sign that that cam is a ultra-cheapo wanna be! Don't forget to use raffia string instead of a strap! LOL!