Problems for paintball in Malaysia

A week after the World Cup Asia, which featured over 140 Pro and amateur teams from all over the world competing on the beautiful Malaysian island of Langkawi, the Malaysian Police decided to hold a national press conference to announce that they were giving all owners of paintball markers, airsoft guns or replica guns until the 25 December 2013 to surrender their equipment to the police. No personal marker possession will be tollerated after this date.

At the press conference, Bukit Aman Police Logistics Department director Zulkifli Abdullah said only registered companies with a paid-up capital of RM400,000 or sports clubs recognised by the Malaysian sports commissioner would be permitted to apply for licences for markers.The main reason given for this ultimatum was to prevent the continued use of replica guns being used for criminal activities, of which there have been 47 cases since 2012, resulting in the conviction and imprisonment of two individuals.

"We do want to encourage the sport but at the same time, we need to control it," he stated.

The Malaysian police did not consult with those in the local paintball industry prior to this press conference.

Local paintballers have few options; join an official Paintball Sports club that must apply for a firearms permit to store all markers at a fixed and approved location, hand over the markers to a licensed paintball business or hand over the markers to the local police for disposal before their Dec. 25 deadline. Anyone caught in possession of a paintball marker after this date could face heavy fines and jail time.

In 2014, licensed paintball sports clubs or businesses must apply for transport permits for each marker if they intend to bring them to any other location in Malaysia. These permits will cost approximately 50RM each (USD$15.50) and may take more than 2 weeks lead time to be approved.

Ownership and possession of paintball markers in Malaysia has always been tolerated by the police even though under written law, they have always been illegal to possess.

"Ownership of paintball markers, airsoft guns and BB guns without a valid license or owning replica weapons is illegal according to Section 26 of the Arms Act 1960, and carries jail sentence and fine if convicted," the Police Logistics Department Director explained during the press conference

Paintball is a sport backed by Malaysian government bodies like the Ministry of Sport and Ministry of Tourism, supported by Malaysian royalty and former Prime Ministers. Paintball development has sky rocketed in Malaysia since it's early 2004 beginnings with numerous large local tournament series, an international tournament series and hundred of fields for both recball, tournaments and woodsball. It is considered the hub of paintball in the region.

The Malaysian paintball community quickly united after the first police press conference and formed a committee to speak to local government authorities and the police. Unfortunately after 2 weeks of negotiations, the original Dec 25 deadline remains and the paintball community are now scrambling to organise themselves properly to meet the requirements of the police. All 2014 tournament schedules have been put on hold so that organisers can assist local paintballers and continue negotiating for more clarity and leniency from the police.

While most in the Malaysian paintball community are less than impressed with the timing of the Police ultimatum, those in the industry have to have no choice but to comply. While they welcome the sport being regulated to legitimise the industry, having to suddenly fall under existing laws drawn up for firearms is a bitter pill to swallow.

The timing couldn't be worse for Malaysian paintball and for that matter, paintball in the South East Asian region which has been thriving simply because of positive progress and improvements in paintball infrastructure in Malaysia.

We can only hope that there is a positive outcome to these recent events so that paintball tournaments like the World Cup Asia can continue to attract paintballers from around the globe and spearhead further interest in paintball in the region.

 



Writer: Grant Harrison Paintball News Editor and paintballer.

Image source: Hak Milik PDRM

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