Cosplay don’t play play: Four foreign enthusiasts arrested for participation at Shah Alam festival

via Geek Summit Facebook
via Geek Summit Facebook

Authorities have confirmed that four foreign nationals were arrested over the weekend after a raid was conducted on a Malaysian cosplay festival, citing lack of immigration permits.

Three Japanese women and a Spanish man were taken into custody following their participation in Geek Summit, an event where they, along with hundreds of others, dress up as their favorite Japanese anime characters, and act out the kind of fan fiction, real-life role playing that this editor lacks the understanding and imagination to grasp.

A senior immigration official clarified that the quartet entered Malaysia on tourist visas, but were “dressed up and performing without permission,” as any art performance in the country requires the permission of a government agency.

Yes, that’s right folks – before you get too excited about dressing up as a slightly less than accurate lady Elvis for sh*ts, giggles and a few curious photo ops, let it be on the record that it’s a nebulous area when it comes to official government permission to do so.

Geek Summit authorities have released a statement on their Facebook page confirming the incident and detentions, but clarifying that they worked with local Shah Alam council, and the police, to get all permits necessary to host the event, and that Immigration arrived on the scene only after an anonymous complaint was filed.

No further information on the nature of the complaint was given.

“All our international guests did not perform on stage, thus were not bound to the requirements stipulated by PUSPAL (Central Agency for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artists) to acquire a professional visa for our international guests.

“Notably, there was an incident which happened two months ago, so we were very cautious on getting everything done accordingly, and we were repetitively reassured by the officer in PUSPAL confirming that no special visa is needed in this case,” read the statement.

The other incident in question refers to the arrests of foreign cosplay enthusiasts at a Kuala Lumpur event after they were found to be in character, and without permit.

The quartet, aged between 28 and 41, are still in custody, though they have yet to be charged with any crimes as investigations are on-going. If found guilty, they will be fined, and deported.

Cosplay has increased in popularity in Malaysia over the years, with a growing local community of enthusiasts, who are not without their own internal dramas, and problematic members.

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