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Locked Up for Dress Up: Cosplayers Recount Harrowing Week in Malaysian Prison


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gridsleep
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Joined: 17 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 1:36 pm Reply with quote
Obviously civilized people should boycott Malaysia. That works. Yeah. I'm mocking myself.
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R. Kasahara
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Joined: 19 Feb 2013
Posts: 263
PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 2:52 pm Reply with quote
Wow, what a horrifying story. Thank you for your thorough reporting.
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CorneredAngel



Joined: 17 Jun 2002
Posts: 829
Location: New York, NY
PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 2:54 pm Reply with quote
Why do so many sentences in this read like they were written in another language first, then translated into English with Google Translate? Lines like "Roca remembers their 'incredible bad taste for clothing.'" (what does this have to do with anything), "The guards themselves shouted racist and homophobic abuse at the prisoners" (oh, no, somebody said something racist/homophobic), "the judges were told that they could not come to Malaysia for a few years" (how many years, was there any kind of official document issued?), and "After arriving in Japan, Hikari talked about the incident with friends who worked at Japanese Ministry" (which Ministry?). The whole thing looks more like a forum post than a professionally written magazine or newspaper article.

In any case, I can certainly see this kind of situation coming about because of the organizers being too naive to know how to work with the authorities, get proper protection, or in the worst case, who to bribe, so the blame really should be on them. Hey, in many parts of the world, that's just how you do business.


Last edited by CorneredAngel on Fri Dec 13, 2019 5:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Tempest
ANN Publisher & CEO


Joined: 29 Dec 2001
Posts: 9644
Location: Do not message me for support.
PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 3:09 pm Reply with quote
CorneredAngel wrote:
Lines like "Roca remembers their 'incredible bad taste for clothing.'" (what does this have to do with anything)

Being able to remember what they were wearing ads weight to the fact that she can remember that they weren't wearing their uniforms.

Quote:

"The guards themselves shouted racist and homophobic abuse at the prisoners" (oh, no, somebody said something racist/homophobic),

Uhh, yeah, that is actually significant. If they are verbally abused in any way, that's significant. If they're abused based on their sexual, or perceived sexual orientation, that's even more significant. If an immigration detainee in particular is verbally abused based on their race, that's very significant.

Quote:
"the judges were told that they could not come to Malaysia for a few years" (how many years, was there any kind of official document issued?),

Good question. I assume the question was asked by ANN and the answer was "no, they weren't given any forms or told how long." But we shouldn't have to guess. I'll point this out to the staff who worked on the article.

Quote:
"After arriving in Japan, Hikari talked about the incident with friends who worked at Japanese Ministry" (which Ministry?).
Good point, an embarrassing omission, I'll also point it out.
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octopodpie
ANN Managing Editor


Joined: 02 May 2011
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Location: Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 3:42 pm Reply with quote
CorneredAngel wrote:
Why do so many sentences in this read like they were written in another language first, then translated into English with Google Translate?..."The guards themselves shouted racist and homophobic abuse at the prisoners" (oh, no, somebody said something racist/homophobic)


Seriously, Mikhail?
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Chrono1000



Joined: 05 Oct 2013
Posts: 1397
PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:12 pm Reply with quote
I will be surprised if Geek Summit manages to convince any other foreigners to take part in future cosplay contests since it sounds like Malaysian law allows them to do this anytime they want. Come for the cosplay contest but stay for the nerd version of Midnight Express. I suspect that even the Malaysian government knows that sending cosplayers to court would be bad for tourism which is why someone higher up in the government got around to stamping their expulsion papers.
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TarsTarkas



Joined: 20 Dec 2007
Posts: 4196
Location: Virginia, United States
PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:50 pm Reply with quote
Kinda of a complicated issue,
On one hand I want to blame the local organizers. They knew the risks, they knew about corruption. Malaysia has never been a safe place to visit.
On the other hand, what are they to do. Never have conventions and events. Never invite guests.

The crying organizer shows that they felt the horror of the situation. And they probably did all they could to make it safe within their means.

Personally, I believe that even if the organizers had a document allowing the guests to do their thing, it would not have mattered. The local waving that paper around would have been arrested to, and the paper would have gone into the shredder or trash can.

The governments of Japan, Spain, and the United States should ban all travel to Malaysia indefinitely. If you can get sent to such a hellish prison for such a minor infraction, then this is not a place to allow your citizens to travel too.
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nargun



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 760
PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 5:39 pm Reply with quote
Chrono1000 wrote:
I will be surprised if Geek Summit manages to convince any other foreigners to take part in future cosplay contests since it sounds like Malaysian law allows them to do this anytime they want.


two issues:

a: All laws everywhere offer the most incredible potential for abuse of non-citizens. Or alleged non-citizens as we see in the UK. Malaysia is in no respects even in the slightest unusual in its legal framework. Restraints on immigration and visitor abuse are entirely cultural, which inter alia mean they can change extremely quickly.

b: generally you'll be OK if you don't break any rules (but see uk), particularly if you're a transient. I don't think there's anything morally wrong with breaking immigration rules but it's a question of pragmatics.

More on the latter: in a lot of places you can't do even unpaid work on a tourist visa. Or perform. CHECK. Yourself, or get someone who's good at navigating bureaucracies.

(when I went to japan last time it was for a sporting event as a competitor. Tourist visa was OK but I had to check.)
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whiskeyii



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 1741
PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 5:51 pm Reply with quote
nargun wrote:


two issues:

a: All laws everywhere offer the most incredible potential for abuse of non-citizens. Or alleged non-citizens as we see in the UK. Malaysia is in no respects even in the slightest unusual in its legal framework. Restraints on immigration and visitor abuse are entirely cultural, which inter alia mean they can change extremely quickly.

b: generally you'll be OK if you don't break any rules (but see uk), particularly if you're a transient. I don't think there's anything morally wrong with breaking immigration rules but it's a question of pragmatics.

More on the latter: in a lot of places you can't do even unpaid work on a tourist visa. Or perform. CHECK. Yourself, or get someone who's good at navigating bureaucracies.

(when I went to japan last time it was for a sporting event as a competitor. Tourist visa was OK but I had to check.)


The whole point of this article is that they did check, and they did get a verbal OK, but not a written one, and then some corrupt immigration officers were bribed into cuffing seemingly legal activity by one nutcase who’s been causing trouble. It’s like if you got a tourist visa after being told you were clear, and then got arrested by local police who claimed otherwise.

Knowing that a) someone out there has a weird vendetta against foreign cosplayers and b) immigration officers in Malaysia are seemingly willing to be bribed into shenanigans like this means foreign cosplayers *are* at risk, since even a government approved event is vulnerable to this kind of exploitation.
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AkumaChef



Joined: 10 Jan 2019
Posts: 462
PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 5:56 pm Reply with quote
First off: Good god, I can't imagine what these cosplayers went through....all for something which was totally innocent by all accounts. That is unimaginable. I am happy to hear that everyone is home safely. And it's especially frustrating to hear what happened especially when they specifically asked about this exact visa issue.

It also sounds like there is some shady business going on here, and this wasn't just a case of local authorities on a power trip or shaking people down for money. Who on earth would want to interfere with an event like that, and why? That's puzzling.


nargun wrote:

two issues:

a: All laws everywhere offer the most incredible potential for abuse of non-citizens. Or alleged non-citizens as we see in the UK. Malaysia is in no respects even in the slightest unusual in its legal framework. Restraints on immigration and visitor abuse are entirely cultural, which inter alia mean they can change extremely quickly.

Agreed. And I'd even go so far as to say that most countries have incredible potential for abuse of full citizens in addition to non-citizens. But I do think that Malaysia is especially bad. Yes, all countries can probably figure out a way to do just about whatever they want to an immigration detainee, but Malaysia has an infamous corruption problem on top of all that.

Quote:

More on the latter: in a lot of places you can't do even unpaid work on a tourist visa. Or perform. CHECK. Yourself, or get someone who's good at navigating bureaucracies.

You are not wrong about that. I was once involved in quoting some custom industrial machinery for a Brazilian company. They purchased one machine from me, then wanted me to fly over to train their staff on how to use it, but they did not want to arrange to get a work visa for me. Apparently, under Brazilian law, "training" requires a work visa which the company in Brazil must get, whereas simply going to a "meeting" did not require that. They wanted me to go to the Brazilian embassy and literally lie to the consul that I wanted to go to Brazil for a "business meeting" as opposed to "training", in order to get my visa.
I said no thank you. It ended up costing my business an awful lot of money in lost future contracts, but there was no way I was going to be involved with lying on immigration papers.
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MidoriUma



Joined: 05 Sep 2014
Posts: 127
PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:28 pm Reply with quote
Moral of the story is simple.

YOU are responsible for learning about, and obeying all laws in a foreign country (including visa laws). Trusting someone you don't know that they took care of it, or that it's not a big deal, is a VERY dangerous prospect.

Once you are arrested in a foreign country, you are basically at their mercy. Your Embassy can ask politely for your release, but that's about it. They have absolutely no other negotiating chip.

It would do people well to read up on laws and visa status before they go to a country. What may constitute fair and decent treatment in your home country might be quite different from another.

It's horrible what happened to them, but they should never have trusted some random convention guy's word on immigration law. Talk to a lawyer next time.
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DavetheUsher



Joined: 19 May 2014
Posts: 242
PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:05 pm Reply with quote
MidoriUma wrote:
It's horrible what happened to them, but they should never have trusted some random convention guy's word on immigration law. Talk to a lawyer next time.


This happens quite often in the American convention scene. Suddenly at the last minute the Japanese guest can't make it because of some unsigned form, or visa issue that prevents them from being able to come to America so there's a sudden cancellation of a guest and upsets fans. Convention staff mess up all the time, which isn't surprising since none of them are immigration experts.
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luisedgarf



Joined: 02 Oct 2004
Posts: 443
Location: Guadalajara, Mexico
PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2019 1:30 am Reply with quote
MidoriUma wrote:
Moral of the story is simple.

YOU are responsible for learning about, and obeying all laws in a foreign country (including visa laws). Trusting someone you don't know that they took care of it, or that it's not a big deal, is a VERY dangerous prospect.

Once you are arrested in a foreign country, you are basically at their mercy. Your Embassy can ask politely for your release, but that's about it. They have absolutely no other negotiating chip.

It would do people well to read up on laws and visa status before they go to a country. What may constitute fair and decent treatment in your home country might be quite different from another.

It's horrible what happened to them, but they should never have trusted some random convention guy's word on immigration law. Talk to a lawyer next time.


Leaving American condescendence aside, keep in mind neither Japanese nor Spaniards are too much into checking with lawyers for everything, compared with Americans, even in this case you're quite right into having them checking with their embassies or lawyers before going abroad. As explained before, those people were involved into some serious problem caused by someone else in order to screw the organizers of that con, and they almost got killed for that.
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Mr. sickVisionz



Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 2056
PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2019 7:55 am Reply with quote
Sounds like a great reason to never visit Malaysia under any circumstances.
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NishizawaMihashi



Joined: 23 Feb 2016
Posts: 28
Location: Malaysia
PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2019 8:38 am Reply with quote
Hmmmmmmm......

This is concerning. I definitely knew about the one that happened way back in March. But I've never heard about this June incident before..... Unless...

Either way, most of us Malaysians know that the Immigration Department is mostly filled with subhuman degens that perform despicable vile acts. It's only a matter of what else that they're doing or have done that still continues to go under wraps. The local Star newspaper has sent undercover investigative journos to try and uncover the shady stuff that happens within these various organizations, governmental or not. Especially of note was that one major headline article about the treatment of duped South Asian workers, at least that's as far as I can remember. Other local news and multimedia outlets have also taken note of these types of incidents as well as other bits of convention drama but anyway...

My anime senpai who's also a local, actually personally knew the organizer of that March event. He told me that he'd always known that the guy was a privileged rich bastard but he'd never expected that it ended up causing a major shitstorm locally. Heck, he was even there at the event for a short time before they had to call the whole thing off, and this was while some of the foreign performers were about to go on stage if I'm remembering things correctly. Right now, the asshole's on the run and hiding be it from local ACG fans or the cops. Nobody knows where the hell he is

It is extremely unfortunate that this had to happen... AGAIN. As I can reasonably recall, throughout all the ACG events here, whether they are big or small, things have proceeded incredibly smoothly in regards to anything immigration related (local cosplayer/attendee drama aside), it just so happened that for this particular year out of all the years, crazy shit just had to happen. The major local events since then have made it extremely clear on their end that they have secured all the necessary documentation for any 'non-tourist' foreigners attending the events as guests

In any case, some things to consider from now on would be to

A) AVOID small time or first time ACG events as much as possible if you're requested/invited to be a foreign guest or worker. Instead opt for the major ones such as Animangaki, Comic Fiesta or Level Up

B) Make sure to learn about the required documentation and rules independent of any claims/assurances by the organizers that they will handle the registration process and guarantee its prior approval; make sure to complete the required forms on your own as well just as a failsafe

C) Get in touch with local fans and professionals to obtain vital intel on the reputation and overall personality of the individuals that are in charge of organizing the event so that you can better prevent yourself from being caught up in terrible, terrible SNAFUs, in the occassion that you are indeed requested/invited to be a guest/worker at their event

It's insane. These things have never happened before as far as I know, from the smallest, obscurest events to the biggest, even since I had first gone to local ACG events way back in 2010, only for crazy shit to start happening just when the local ACG events scene is about to experience another major boom
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