Legal News : New Law Refines Rela Powers

THE powers of the People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) will be outlined in a new law which comes into effect next month. The new Act is aimed at preventing the abuse of power and impersonation of Rela members. Under the new law, which also sets the enrolment age for Rela members at 18 and limits their tenure to five years, they will no longer have the power to detain, arrest or carry firearms.

PETALING JAYA: A new law to refine the powers of the People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) comes into effect next month with strict measures to curb misuse of authority and impersonation of its members.

Under the Malaysia Volunteers Corps Bill 2012 passed in Parliament on April 20 and expected to be gazetted next month, Rela members would no longer have the power to make arrests or carry firearms.

Anyone found guilty of impersonating a Rela member can be jailed up to three years, fined a maximum of RM5,000 or both.

The law also requires those who are no longer members to return their uniforms and certificate of appointment within 14 days of leaving the corps.

Previously, it was not an offence for them to keep their uniforms even after resigning from the agency.

“Those who fail to return the uniforms and certificate after leaving can now be taken to court,” said Deputy Home Minister Datuk Lee Chee Leong, adding that the maximum penalty for doing so would also be a prison term of three years, a fine of RM5,000 or both.

The new law also limits the period of enrolment for Rela members to five years, after which, the status of membership has to be renewed by an authorised officer.

Those below the age of 18 would also have their membership revoked under the increased age requirement when the Malaysia Volunteers Corps Act 2012 comes into force from June 22. The existing enrolment age for Rela members is 16 for girls and 17 for boys.

As of March 31, the total number of volunteers in the corps stood at 2,924,065.

Lee said the new law was expected to curb crime cases involving the impersonation of Rela members.

In March last year, police arrested two men who robbed and raped a woman after claiming to be police officers.

Two of their accomplices, including a Rela member who had lent his handcuffs to the duo, were held.

In 2006, robbers masquerading as Rela members drove off with RM47mil worth of microchips from the air cargo complex in Penang.

MCA Public Complaints and Services Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong, who is also an honorary Rela member, welcomed the move to limit the membership to five years saying it would facilitate the management of members.

However, he said making Rela members return their uniforms would not be effective in addressing impersonation.

“If people want to misuse the uniform, they can easily buy it at shops or even online,” he said yesterday.

Chong said there were numerous shops selling uniforms and paraphernalia of all enforcement agencies, complete with their rank.

“This can only be addressed through strict enforcement on the sale of these uniforms,” he said.

Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said there was no reason for former members to hold on to their uniforms.

“We don’t want to see people who are no longer Rela members misusing the uniforms to carry out or enforce laws,” he said.

Rela director-general Datuk Mustafa Ibrahim said the Home Minister would be making an official announcement on the Bill and several other laws passed recently.

Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had earlier said in Parliament that the Government had taken the public’s views into consideration when drafting the Bill.

Source: The Star Online

By: P. Aruna

Published: Monday, May 28, 2012

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