The People's Volunteer Corps

The People's Volunteer Corps (Malay: Jabatan Sukarelawan Malaysia), abbreviated RELA, is a paramilitary civil volunteer corps[1] 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.


The People's Volunteer Corps is closely related to the Home Guard that established in order to safe guard the local from communists when emergency declared in 1948 and was dissolved after emergency ended on 31 July 1960 . Its purpose was to guard against communists.[2] It now serves as a strike force against illegal immigrants. It is 2.8 million strong and is composed of mostly untrained volunteers.[2] In 2008 Rela was given charge of immigration detention centres.[3]

Mission and Objective

  • Vision

To prepare, train, and maintain a volunteer force as the Nation's line of defence and to guard the welfare of the citizens of Malaysia.

  • Mission

To deploy and mobilise the volunteer force to reduce Illegal Immigrantion and to assist other enforcement agencies to maintain peace and security throughout Malaysia.

  • Objective

Help preserve national security, peace and welfare of the Malaysian citizens and to reduce Illegal Immigrantion

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 defence on all strategic interest in their area.





Human Rights Watch has called for People's Volunteer Corps to be dissolved. They have accused it of violating human rights, conducting illegal raids and extortions.[5]


Assault Rifles
Battle Rifles


Human Rights Abuses

According to the United Nations Human Development Report 2009,"Migrant activists say that RELA volunteers have become vigilantes, planting evidence to justify arrests of migrants and using excessive force in their policing. The government has recently announced its intention to curb abuses and is currently looking into ways of improving RELA by providing training to its members."


  1. "My RELA". My Rela. 13 November 2017. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  2. Mydans, Seth (10 December 2007). "A Growing Source of Fear for Migrants in Malaysia". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  3. Garcés-Mascareñas, Blanca (1 January 2012). Labour Migration in Malaysia and Spain: Markets, Citizenship and Rights. Amsterdam University Press. p. 100. ISBN 9789089642868.
  4. MyRela Volunteer strength Nov 2017, accessed 13 Nov 2017
  5. "Malaysia: Disband Abusive Volunteer Corps". Human Rights Watch. 10 May 2007. Retrieved 27 April 2016.

Further reading

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