NEW RELA..... Riot (left) and Mustafa jointly unveil the new name for Rela. Rebranding vital to attract more volunteers as previous name gives impression of communism.
By : LIM HOW PIM
KUCHING: Rela, a community-based volunteer squad is now rebranded as Pasukan Sukarelawan Malaysia to allow it to play a more progressive role in helping to maintain the country’s law and order.
Formerly named Ikatan Relawan Rakyat Malaysia, Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Richard Riot said the rebranding was aimed at attracting more Malaysians, especially the youths, to be part of the volunteer corps.
He told reporters after unveiling the new name at the state’s Rela headquarters here yesterday that the previous name gave the impression of communism which might deter people from joining as members.
Riot asserted that the rebranding exercise was also meant to further strengthen the squad to make it a force to be reckoned with.
“The rebranding is carried out in the hope that more volunteers will come forward to uphold social peace and harmony.
“Malaysia is one of the most peaceful countries that I know of. With the rebranding, we want to increase the membership from now over three million to four million in 2013.”
He expressed confidence that if current members reached out to their families and friends, the target of having four million volunteers serving the corps would be achieved, saying in the past, not many Malaysians wanted to volunteer to maintain social order.
The Serian MP, however, was glad to note that the number of Rela personnel in his constituency had gone up to 12,000 against 8,000 a decade ago.
In his speech earlier, Riot said of the over three million Rela members in the country, 2.1 million or so were aged 40 and below.
Describing it as “something very, very good”, he said it was essential to keep the squad young while striving to inculcate the spirit of volunteerism among Malaysians.
“Of the over three million Rela members, 229,930 are from Sarawak, which is a very good number. But I still want to urge more Sarawakians to join the force.
“Another good sign is that of the total Rela (members) in Sarawak, 121,702 are aged 40 and below,” he said, adding that gone were the days when only the retired group showed keen interest.
He also advised Rela personnel not to go beyond the duties assigned to them.
“Do not overdo it. That said, I mean we are out there to assist the enforcement teams such as police and immigration, and also be the eyes and ears of the government.”
Meanwhile, Rela director-general Datuk Mustafa Ibrahim said at least 8,000 of his men were on duty nationwide on a daily basis.
He pointed out that the role of the corps had expanded over the years, with the volunteers serving many segments of the community.
“Following this rebranding, I call on all members to think anew, uphold new spirit and more importantly adapt to all sorts of changes across the country.”
Mustafa also highlighted that Budget 2013 had allocated RM400 million, the biggest figure so far, for the development of the volunteer corps.
“Before this, we got about RM60 million every year. The big budget allocation indicates that our sacrifice and contributions do not go unnoticed.” (BP)