Rela misusing firearms

RELA, a volunteer corps formed mainly to help maintain the nation’s security has previously come under fire due to numerous cases of abuse.

There have been calls for Rela to be disbanded by several parties, including the Malaysian Bar, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and members of the public.

For those who are unaware, Rela volunteers are not screened before joining. Members who have been active for five consecutive years (three years for ex-army/police personnel) are permitted to use firearms,although they must have no prior criminal record.

Most of Rela’s manpower goes towards controlling illegal immigrants where the use of firearms is hardly necessary.

Many unscrupulous people have realised that joining Rela gives them an opportunity to obtain a firearm licence which might not be possible through conventional means.

This subsequently leads to a high probability of firearms misuse for other purposes such as illegal hunting, especially in rural areas which are near forest reserves.

This is bad news for our local wildlife which are already being harmed by poaching and widespread deforestation.

Aside from hearing stories of these illegal activities, I have also seen Rela members in forest reserves on a couple of occasions, dressed in hunting gear and carrying a rifle – somehow I doubt they were there to flush out illegal immigrants.

Although most of these individuals would probably target game species such as deer, I have no doubt that they would shoot any animal of value that happens to cross their path, including those endangered species.

The Home Affairs Ministry has previously resisted calls for Rela to be disbanded but I urge the Ministry at the very least to withdraw firearm privileges from Rela members.

GUARDIOLA4,

Kuala Lumpur.

from : Tne Star Onlinnews/letter

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