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"RELA Corps" (or Ikatan Relawan Rakyat Malaysia; English: Volunteers of Malaysian People) is a paramilitary civil volunteer corps formed by the Malaysian government. Their main duty is to check the traveling documents and immigration permits of foreigners in Malaysian cities, including tourists, visitors and migrants to reduce the increasing rate of illegal immigrants in Malaysia. RELA has the authority to deal with situations like policemen, such as raiding suspected streets or places such as factories, restaurants and even hotels. They are also fully authorised to conduct the interrogation and even detaining people who forgot to bring their traveling documents, like passports and/or working permits. Besides that they are also tasked with security works at times. During times of war, they are absorbed into the Malaysian Army as support groups despite their law enforcing duties. They are also tasked to do SAR works if needed.
Mission and Objective
To prepare, train, and maintain a volunteer force as the Nation's line of defense and to guard the welfare of the citizens of Malaysia.
To deploy and mobilise the volunteer force in order to reduce Illegal Immigrant and to assist other enforcement agencies in order to maintain peace and security throughout Malaysia.
Help preserve national security, peace and well fare of the Malaysian citizens and to reduce Illegal Immigrant
Roles and Priorities
During War or Emergency
- To maintain and preserve public order and security of local area before being handed over to the Armed Forces.
- To lead and protect the citizens to a safer area.
- War combatants and psyops
- As "eyes" and "ears" of the military and the government
- Help the armed forces to operate patrols, intelligence, security force, and to provide direct defense on all strategic interest in their area.
- Current strength of RELA in terms of personnel as of 23 May 2013 (see http://myrela.moha.gov.my/myrela/index.php/pengguna/login)
Alleged Power Abuse
In October 2007, members of the RELA corps arrested the wife of the Indonesian Education Attaché, Musliana Nurdin in the Chow Kit district, Kuala Lumpur. The RELA corps suspected her as an illegal immigrant even though she had shown her diplomatic identity card. Musliana was only released several hours later after her son had brought her passport and showed it to them. The incident sparked sharp protests from Indonesians. Before Malaysia had a long history of Indonesian-workers (known as TKI in Indonesia) abuses by their Malaysians employers. Other alleged abuse cases to the visitors from USA, Europe, and Asia add the long list of RELA's questionable activities. The same cases happened to other expatriates when they only brought expatriate ID, most of RELA corps can not recognise this ID as replacement of passport. This is due to lack of RELA training leading to arresting of the expatriates with valid ID (expatriate ID, expatriate card).
- news about RELA in Aljazeera
- Human Right Watch on RELA abussive
- Malaysian Restaurant sues Rela - International Herald Tribune
- Malaysian Human Right Watch on the rape case by Rela volunteers in Malaysia
- Rela Q&A mfasia.com
- "Istri Diplomat Indonesia Diperlakukan Kasar" (Wife of Indonesian Diplomat treated Harshly), Tempointeraktif.com, 10 March 2007
- New York Times article about Rela
- Malaysia Bar on RELA
- UK Channel 4 - Malaysia: Refugees for Sale