Excerpt of Speech by Quek Ngee Meng, Head of the Signature Campaign Condemning the Batang Kali Massacre on the Launching Ceremony 20 August 2008
Upholding The Value of Human Dignity
1. We can easily find out the story of the Batang Kali Massacre in bookstore or internet. For example:-
a. In a pictorial history book authored by Lt Col (R) Mohd Azzam Mohd Hanif Ghows entitled “The Malayan Emergency Revisited 1948 – 1960”, we learn about the atrocity committed by the Malayan Communist Party. But at page 55, there is an account of killing committed by British Army in Batang Kali on 12 December 1948. It stated that “suspicions remained about a possible government whitewash. Indeed later, in 1969 (should be 1970), following the international outcry over the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, claims in British newspapers forced a new investigation, but a change in government in Britain led to the enquiry being aborted, despite sworn statements from participants and a lone survivor that a deliberate massacre had taken place.”
b. Similar suspicious can be found in Wikipedia, the website encyclopedia.
Therefore, unless and until the truth is revealed, the Batang Kali Massacre will always haunt the reputation and goodwill of the British Army, if there is any. As Malaysians, we have a duty to find out the truth and seek for justice for those who had sacrified and suffered during the time of terror.
2. Together with other voluntary lawyers, I went to the National Archives of UK. We discovered the sworn statements of confession made by ex-Scot Guards, the British Army who involved in the Batang Kali Massacre, in 1970. They revealed the following essential evidence:
a. the patrol had prior instruction to wipe out the village;
b. the men were shot without trying to escape; and
c. there was a conspiracy to mislead the inquiry.
Despite the investigation carried out in 1970 revealed contradictory evidences, the Conservative Party Government aborted the investigation barely within 10 days after they have won the general election. We are not convinced with the reasons given by the Tory Government.
3. Aborting an investigation in such a hasty manner would only give rise to more doubt. There is no dispute that the 24 victims were unarmed and they were killed by the British Army. Based on the confession made by the ex-Scots Guards, a massacre had indeed taken place. It is a crime against humanity.
4. Let’s be clear. We are not questioning the legality of the Emergency or the guerilla warfare itself. However, we cannot tolerate any atrocity committed by those who were armed and asserted brutality on the innocent and unarmed civilians.
5. We have no doubt that there were inquiry initiated by the British Government over the Batang Kali massacre, but we strongly believed that certain quarters had an ulterior intention to conceal and cloud the truth, and misled the public including the international community.
6. The families of the massacre victims have no intention to take revenge by seeking criminal punishment on those soldiers involved in the brutal killing. But the families want justice to be done. These include the following:
a. the massacre victims were not bandits or terrorists. They were fellow Malayan residents who have contributed toward the economic wealth of our nation. Their family members want an apology from the UK Government;
b. the families are seeking monetary compensation for loss of their bread winners during the massacre and hardship that the families had suffered after the killing; and
c. a memorial to be built for the massacre victims because their unattended bodies had been remained exposed for more than a week. There is no value of human dignity accorded to the victims.
7. These are the sublime values that the Malaysians and younger generation are striving for. A value that respect human dignity, a value that true and honesty are foundation of a civic and progressive society, and a value that wrongful perpetrator will be held accountable. There is no time limitation restricting these values to flourish, nor is there any standard variation for these values to be upheld in different part of the worlds.
8. The Action Committee Condemning the Batang Kali massacre had submitted a petition to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II via the British High Commission on 25 March 2008. There is no response from the UK Government.
9. As such, we need to press on. The Action Committee is mainly made up by the Ulu Yam residents. To the British authority, the Committee may not be strong enough to even warrant a response from the UK Government. In order to intensify the Committee’s effort in seeking justice for massacre victims, the Committee needs support from more Malaysia NGOs and Societies, irrespective of races, religions and background, so long as they subscribe to the values that the Committee is striving for.
10. This is the reason that we are organizing a signature campaign by Malaysian Societies and NGOs to condemn and censure the Batang Kali Massacre. We hope to achieve the following objectives during this signature campaign:
a. uncover the truth and rectify an historical injustice; and
b. enhance a value of upholding human dignity within the Malaysian society.
11. We must give our special thanks to journalists who had relentlessly searching for the truth of this Batang Kali massacre i.e. the “People” Newspaper in 1970 and BBC Documentary “In Cold Blood” in 1992. Local journalists deserved special thanks as well because they have stirred public awareness on this historical injustice within our society so that younger generation can pursue further in seeking justice for the massacre victims.
12. We wish to express our sincere gratitude to the Societies and NGOs who have affixed their signature on the endorsement letters, in support of this signature campaign. We must also thank the ruling and opposition political parties which have provided the necessary backing to this exercise of seeking justice for the massacre victims.