Saturday, May 19, 2007

RELA Achieves International Notoriety Now!

A Malaysian blooper reported in the International Herald Tribune.

Malaysia's volunteer security corps defended Friday detaining an Indian film director after mistaking him for an illegal immigrant, but the tourism minister apologized for the incident.

Zaidon Asmuni, the director general of the volunteer force known by its Malay acronym RELA, said the man was detained during a routine check for illegal immigrants in Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown area Monday night because he was not carrying his passport.

RELA released Sanjiv Mishra, in Malaysia to shoot a documentary on leading Asian hotels for German television, after several hours when his colleagues brought his passport, Zaidon said.

On Thursday, Tourism Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor apologized for the incident, saying the wrongful detention had shocked him, a local daily reported Friday. "I am very sorry for what has happened," Adnan was quoted by the New Straits Times as saying. "They came here to shoot a documentary ... but it turned out to be a nightmare for them." He said such incidents should be prevented. Ministry officials could not immediately be reached to confirm his comments.

Indian Deputy High Commissioner N.K. Saxena said the High Commission received a complaint about the incident Monday night and referred the matter to the Foreign Ministry to investigate.

Zaidon denied any wrongdoing by his force, saying foreigners must carry valid identification at all times. "We normally do the checking like that," he said. "We don't arrest foreigners who carry a valid travel document. What for? We have our detention centers full." He said the volunteers took Mishra to a RELA office to avoid a commotion on the busy downtown street where he was stopped.

The New Straits Times reported the two RELA members who stopped him were not in uniform and carried no identification cards. Zaidon said he could not confirm this, but added volunteers sometimes wear plainclothes though they always carry cards identifying them as RELA members.

Wrongful detentions by RELA have occasionally occurred in the past, mostly involving Indians and Pakistanis. Zaidon said two Americans were stopped last year but the incident was resolved without any formal complaints.

Zaidon said RELA has detained some 16,700 illegal immigrants since January, calling it a "very good job." But he admitted there were a few "black sheep" in the force of a half-million personnel.

Activists estimate that Malaysia has at least 150,000 refugees and asylum seekers. There are 1.8 million legal foreign workers in Malaysia, Zaidon said. The New York-based Human Rights Watch recently accused RELA of becoming a vigilante force against migrant workers.

***** On the one hand our government especially the tourism department is going all out to invite foreigners to visit the country, while merrily singing, "Malaysia Truly Asia" albeit without really meaning it. On the other these misfits that form Rela are giving not only themselves but our nation a bad name as well. Apologies don't really make things better and once these unnecessary incidents are reported in the home country of the victims, over time we can expect less tourists and visitors from there. To be sure India is one helluva huge tourist market which Malaysia would be foolish to ignore or lose.

Earlier related post:
Rela - Malaysia's Answer To The Gestapo.
Image - Source
Another Visit Malaysia Year special!: Indian software professional detained in Malaysia for not carrying passport

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

instead of looking at ways to prevent similar incidents, usual semua ok from the top. you just want to give up on these people.

12:29 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very similar concept of elected dictatorship arising from monopoly. A similar behaviour can be seen in a market failure situation where there is a monopoly in control of the market (example Microsoft/AT&T/IBM). Here the commodity is power and the monopoly is behaving no different.

9:54 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope Sammy Valo forgets to wear his toupee one fine day and then get detained by RELA during a routine check for illegal immigrants in Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown

1:45 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truly Teruk! Never mind the expensive 5-star toilets ranging cost mentioned about RM400,000 per unit build scatterly (i.e. pasar market and elsewhere). Never mind about the tourists fleeced off by taxis and never mind the China dolls busy drinking at hawkers centers (soliciting or not!!) chatting up oldmen (also pasar road market hawker center). Never mind the imposing growing numbers of Nigerians in Taman Caunaught or Indonesians filling up Kg Pandan. They are all contributing statistics to a "successful" Visit Malaysia year. So what, only one incident? Well, mainstream newspapers don't lie, they just keep silent on cases.

2:49 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous Number 4:

Right on! Well said on the facts...all contributing to the successful statistics that the officialdom will eventually claimed: Visit Malaysia A Huge Success!!

And probably.....extend another 2 years!!

10:36 AM GMT+8  

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