KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20, 2008 (AFP) – Malaysian activists are seeking an apology from Britain for the 1948 massacre of 24 unarmed villagers by British troops during the start of a crackdown against a rising communist insurgency.
The killings, known here as the “Batang Kali massacre,” occurred in central Selangor state on December 12, 1948 when 14 members of the Scots Guards killed unarmed Chinese villagers and torched their village.
Cabinet minister Ong Tee Keat, who was present at the signing Wednesday of a petition calling for an official apology and compensation, said the history of the guerrilla war between colonial British forces and the Communist-led Malayan National Liberation Army should be accurately portrayed.
“This event has been glossed over by the colonial government administration. This has been kept under the rug for so long,” Ong told AFP.
“What these people are seeking really is historical redress as those that were killed have for long been described as bandits and Communist sympathisers,” he added.
Quek Ngee Meng, head of the Campaign Condemning the Batang Kali Massacre said the group wanted Britain to apologise and hold a public inquiry into the killings.
“Let us show our evidence and if we have proven our case then meet our demands. If the outcome favours the British government, then we will stop this protest,” he said.
In March, the group had demanded 80 million pounds (149 million dollars) from London as compensation for the incident but has yet to receive a response.
Quek said an earlier British inquiry in 1970 had been halted in order to protect the reputation of the military.
Ong, who is vice president of the Malaysian Chinese Association, a key party in the ruling coalition, said the matter should be discussed by both countries. “I have raised this with our foreign ministry and they will have to decide if it can be pursued further (on a government level with Britain).”
The Batang Kali raid was part of an operation against Communist insurgents after a state of emergency was declared by the British colonial government of the country, then known as Malaya, in 1948 and lifted in 1960. The guerrilla war left thousands dead and formally ended only in 1989 with the signing of a peace treaty with the Malayan Communist Party.
Courtesy of AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE (AFP)