Twelve people without proper work visas were arrested during an immigration raid at a cosplay convention in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on its first day over the weekend.
The event, Cosplay Festival 4, had a line-up of performances on March 23 when officers from the Immigration Department of Malaysia (Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia/JIM) stormed its venue at the Sunway Putra Hotel around 2 p.m. after receiving a tip.
Among those who were arrested included five Japanese, three Singaporeans, two Thais, one Hong Kong citizen, as well as a local Malaysian organizer. Additionally, 52 more people were questioned, SoraNews24 reported.
As it turned out, the arrested cosplayers lacked appropriate work visas, clinging only to social visit passes that did not cover their performance activities at the event.
Hamidi Adam, director of JIM Kuala Lumpur, added that the event, organized by Cosplay Corner, was held without permission from Malaysia’s Central Agency for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes, also known as Puspal.
Malaysia requires professional visit passes from foreigners who wish to perform in the country, with applications forwarded to Puspal for approval.
Ahmad Syafiq Nizar Ahmad Radzi, events director of Cosplay Corner — the organizer arrested during the raid — claimed that those detained were not paid to perform for the event. He was released the following day.
“These people are just hobbyists. They are also friends of mine. That is why they were willing to come,” Syafiq told The New Paper. He vowed to take responsibility for the foreigners arrested, informing the respective embassies and hiring lawyers for the 10 who did not have access to legal representation.
Due to the legal chaos, the second day of the event was officially cancelled. Cosplay Corner is now working to make refunds.
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