KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 — The High Court ruling reversing the police’s classification of paintball markers as guns could make Malaysia a hub for the sport, said the Malaysian Paintball Federation (MPF).

The case in question was filed by Eight Adventure Sports (EAS) co-owner Zulfika Dahalan on July 2 last year after disputing the seizure of paintball equipment belonging to EAS by the police in April that year.

EAS wanted to obtain a court declaration or judicial review on whether paintball markers are ‘Arms’ defined under the Arms Act 1960. The respondents in the case were the Home Ministry and Inspector General of Police. EAS were represented by lawyers Fahri Azzat and K. Shanmuga while the government was represented by Senior Federal Counsel Tuan Khairul.

MPA deputy president Tunku Alizan Alias called the decision a crucial victory for the sport that had been nearly crippled by the police’s move to treat paintball markers as guns since 2013.

“We were set to be the hub for paintball in the region till the ruling killed the industry,” he told Malay Mail.

“Now that it’s been made clear that a marker isn’t lethal and is safe to carry around were hoping the sport can pick up from where we left off.”

High Court Justice Datuk Nordin Hassan also ruled yesterday for EAS’ equipment to be returned within 14 days.

Paintball grew popular in Malaysia during the 2000s but the sport suffered a severe blow when the police said the markers were dangerous and must be treated as a weapon according to the Arms Act 1960.

Markers must be registered with the police and licensed at a cost of RM50 per year. While the cost was not a major barrier, the licence was anecdotally difficult to obtain.

Those travelling with the markers were also restricted to using Malaysia Airlines and must pay RM200 per flight to carry them on board.

“An additional RM400 is a burden on some of the average income earners and in the end, they would decide not to travel for competitions,” Tunku Alizan explained.

Zulfika described yesterday’s decision as a relief, saying it bode well for the sport.

He noted that Malaysia had been a popular destination for paintball enthusiasts prior to the police decision, and said things deteriorated quickly after the police raided a local tournament.

“After that, all events were stopped and regulation kicked in. Every event required a permit which was around RM7,000 per tournament.  With this payment out the money can be used for other things like enhancing the customers' experiences at the paintball parks.

“Eventually we’d like to send a team for all the major competitions we’ve been missing out,” he added.

Events Malaysia used to attend were the Paintball World Cup Europe Millennium Series, Paintball World Cup United States of America Series PSP, Special Paintball World Cup, Paintball World Cup Asia, Paintball Asia League (Kuala Lumpur), International Scenario Paintball Games and International Super Seven Championships.

*A previous version of this story contained an error which has since been corrected.