First of all, I'm writing this post with respect to my Muslim brethrens; after all, the religious police here is clearly understood to belong to the religion of Islam.
The topic description says it all. Are they necessary in the first place? Or have they merely pushed social limits?
We have heard of several controversies regarding the religious police. One of the most embarassing I suppose is the case where a senior married foreign couple got 'caught' during a vacation in Malaysia. The poor lady was traumatised; her husband demanded apology from the religious police and other parties who may be directly or indirectly involved with the case.
Then we have the case of a baby seized from its Hindu mother and surrendered to its Muslim grandmother (Ref: http://www.asiafinest.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=115947) which evoked a lot of response from fellow forumers.
The religious police in my opinion would have been okay if they just stuck to cases involving Muslims, and Muslims only, eg. those usual tangkap basah cases on Muslim couples, Muslims who eat before the buka puasa hour during the monht of Ramadhan, etc. But being a multi-religious community, it is not a surprise that we have non-Muslim parties getting tangled up in such controversies as well. And the result is often disastrous - religious police meddling in strictly personal, highly sensitive areas such as births and deaths.
I would like to see what you - both Muslims and non-Muslims - have to say regarding this matter. Frankly speaking, I think the religious police is 'taking care of other people's side of the cloth' (menjaga tepi kain orang) to the point they meddle in personal affairs. Would the community - or even the Muslim community itself - be better off without the religious police? Or are they still a necessity that just needs a clear-cut rule regarding their areas of authority?