The history of the Malaysian Volunteer Corps Department (RELA) is closely related to that of the Home Guards established to protect local security during the Emergency declared in 1948 up until its disbandment at the end of the Emergency on 31 July 1960.
From 1963 to 1965, the Volunteer Corps was re-established as the Special Security Force subsequent to Indonesia’s confrontation with the country, to act as the eyes and ears of the government as well as to help other security agencies. The Special Security Force was disbanded after the confrontation ended.
After the 1969 incident, the late Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, the then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, was of the opinion that it was important to establish a volunteer force that functioned as the eyes and ears of the government as well as the third line of defence in facing the nation’s security threats.
Thus, on 11 January 1972, the government decided to establish RELA under Section 2 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Act 1964. From 2005 to 2012, RELA was given special powers under the Emergency Act 1964 to carry out operations against illegal immigrants. The powers vested in it were excellently used against the illegal immigrants so that the nation’s peace and the people’s well-being continued to be preserved. On 22 June 2012, RELA was rebranded with the abolition of the People’s Volunteer Alliance and subsequent renaming as the Malaysian Volunteer Corps pursuant to the Malaysian Volunteer Corps Act 2012 [Act 752], based on the concept of 5K 1P, namely, peace, security, well-being, harmony, unity and solidarity.
Beginning from 28 August 2013, RELA was upgraded to a federal department known as the Malaysian Volunteer Corps Department (RELA).