Press Statement In Relation to The UK Government Reconsidering The Action Committee’s Requests (29 April 2009)
1. While the Action Committee Condemning the Batang Kali Massacre welcomes the sensible move made by the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Secretary of State for Defence to withdraw their 21/1/09 refusal and reconsider the surviving families’ requests for setting up a public inquiry, it is cautious about the relevant authorities may intentionally drag all efforts during the restoration of truth to the detriment of the families.
2. Tham Yong, one of the surviving families, has on 1/4/09 through her lawyers, Bindmans LLP, issued letter before claim to the Secretaries of State stating categorically that the refusal on public inquiry and reparation requests are unlawful for the following reasons:-
a. the explanation for not undertaking an inquiry or further investigation is unlawful and irrational;
b. failure to have due regards to the race relations implications of the decisions;
c. the reasons for the decisions are inadequate; and
d. in the circumstances of the present case, an adequate inquiry and reparation are demanded by the common law to give to customary international law.
3. Tham Yong and the remaining surviving families are demanding the following from the Secretaries of State:-
a. agree to constitute a public inquiry with the terms of reference to determine the reasons for the killings at Batang Kali and to identify the lessons that should be learned;
b. include in the inquiry’s remit the power to make recommendations as to redress, or establish an alternative fair mechanism for determining the amount and form of redress for breaches of humanitarian and human right laws that occurred at Batang Kali on 11 and 12 December 1948; and
c. set out provisional timetable for progressing the above and agree to consider representations from Tham Yong and others about it.
4. Secretaries of State’s solicitor requested for an extension to reply until 24/4/09 and agree that Tham Yong may issue claim on or before 8/5/2009.
5. On 24/4/09, Secretaries of State decided to reconsider its decision of not holding a public inquiry or further investigation into this matter and requested for “few months” to make up their mind. This request is not accepted by Tham Yong and the Committee. We are of the view that such a long and uncertain period of determination is either a genuine typo error on the part of the Secretaries of State or they are simply dragging time unnecessary to the detriment of the surviving families.
6. Tham Yong’s lawyer has made clear on 27/4/09 that the reconsideration process must be completed within 6 weeks because most of the materials are exclusively records of the Secretaries of States, which presumably they must have already considered.
7. There is an absolute urgency on this matter as most of the witnesses may not be able to wait for the justice to be restored. For example, one of the eye witnesses, Wong Kum Sooi, who was 11 at time of killings, passed away on last Friday. He was the eldest son of Huang Ren and nephew to Huang De-Feng, both of whom were killed by the British Army on 12 December 1948 at Batang Kali. JUSTICE DELAYED IS NONE OTHER THAN JUSTICE DENIED. In the circumstances, the Committee urges the Secretaries of State involved agreeing to the request of the surviving families for an inquiry and reparation consistent with international humanitarian standards.
8. The Committee wishes to state in no uncertain term that the only lawful decision as a result of the reconsideration exercise by the Secretaries of State is to hold an inquiry and make reparations either immediately or in the light of that inquiry’s findings.
Quek Ngee Meng
Halim Hong & Quek
For and on behalf of
The Action Committee Condemning the Batang Kali Massacre