RELENTlessly Fighting Modern Day Slavery in Malaysia

17 Jan 2013 by Timothy Tai-

In my earlier interview with lead vocalist Neil Batiancila, he revealed that when RELENT isn’t out playing gigs or leading worship at church, they hold regular jobs at an organization called Change Your World (CYW). This time, I interviewed their drummer Cuzario David to find out more about their involvement in CYW and their fight against Modern Day Slavery.


CM: Why don’t you start by telling us what you guys do at Change Your World (CYW)?

Cuzario: Well, each one of us has a different role to play in the company. Daniel is the Creative Director, Jude’s the (music) Academy Manager, Neil’s the Social Media Executive and I’m the Communications Director. As a team our goal is to creatively create awareness and educate people about the atrocity of Modern Day Slavery (MDS).

CM: For those who are hearing about Modern Day Slavery (MDS) for the first time, can you explain what it is?

Cuzario: To be forced to do something against your will, exploited and treated like slaves; forced to work with little or no pay at all while your freedom and rights are taken away from you – those are hints of what MDS is really about.

CM: Is MDS the same thing as human trafficking?

Cuzario: In layman’s terms, you could say that MDS is the mother of the issues of which human trafficking is only one of those parked under it. Other examples of MDS include mail order brides (early/forced marriage), prostitution, sex trafficking, organ trafficking, baby trafficking, forced begging, child labor, slavery by descent, domestic workers and – not known to many – deep sea fishermen who were tricked of a job and would later be mistreated and murdered at the pleasure of their captors.

CM: Is MDS really a global crisis or is it something that only affects countries like Thailand and India?

Cuzario: Statistics tell us that it is the 2nd highest organized crime and “most profitable business” ever recorded in the world, losing only to the arms (weapons) business. Some experts believe that it is only a matter of time before MDS overtakes the latter to be on top of the list. That alone paints a picture of how serious this crisis is affecting countries around the globe.

CM: But MDS isn’t something that we really read a lot about in the local papers. How real is this problem here in Malaysia?

Cuzario: It really isn’t something new in this nation and just recently over the past few months or so, we have read some success stories in our local dailies. For that, I would like to applaud the government for stepping up their game in making sure that the scene doesn’t go out of hand.

Even so, whatever that was published for the public’s eyes are only success stories. There are definitely other serious cases that went unreported or have not been covered by the media so as not to reveal the truth and scare the public about the real situation locally. That is one of the reasons why news about it isn’t widespread, resulting in the public being unaware and clueless about MDS in Malaysia.

Just last year there were news about Indonesian and Burmese maids getting abused, some to the point of death; looking further back in time, cases of missing children, many still unresolved until today. Those are just some of the stories we know locally to remind us that we are not exempted and MDS does happen in our own backyards.

Shocking statistic!

CM: I can see now why CYW came about. So what does CYW do in the fight against MDS? Do you guys raid brothels at night and rescue women and children who have been forced into prostitution?

Cuzario: As much as we want to be, we weren’t born superheroes. No we don’t do all those. Our partner Tenaganita does all that – they are the experts.

Our role in CYW, as mentioned earlier, is to create awareness about MDS. One of the ways we do that besides running campaigns and tours is by hosting gigs we call School Gigs, Campus Gigs, Office Gigs as well as House Gigs. In each one of the gigs we do not only present updated facts and news about MDS but also entertain the crowd with live acoustic set music – and that is where our role as RELENT comes to play. The whole session is like a chillaxed infotainment show. You can find out more about the gigs on our website if you like.

Other than all that was mentioned, we also handle the after-care program called the Save One Life program where together with us, volunteers raise funds to support and meet the needs of the trafficked survivors.