Press Statement (13 December 2009)
The Action Committee condemning the Batang Kali Massacre is disappointed with the British Government for putting unreasonable and unfair hurdles for the surviving families in their quest for justice by withholding or releasing partial documents that formed the basis of the “minded to refuse a public enquiry” decision.
The Co-ordinator for the Committee, Quek Ngee Meng, expressed his utmost dissatisfaction at a memorial service which was held in front of the British High Commission to commemorate those victims who were killed at Batang Kali 61 years ago. Ruling and opposition leaders, leaders of the Chinese community, NGO representatives, and surviving family members attended the memorial service.
Quek said that “When the British Ministry of Defence and Foreign and Commonwealth Office communicated their provisional refusal on 21 August, we were invited to make further representations before a final decision was made by them. Since then our lawyers have been seeking the documents on which the provisional decision was based, most of which are not in they public domain, so they can make those representations on an informed basis. That is only fair and reasonable. The response has been a combination of half hearted or partial disclosure along with delay and excuses for not disclosing the remainder. We have been severely handicapped by various hurdles which were imposed by the British government.”
The documents which are not in the public domain include the files kept by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), along with papers relating to the aborted criminal investigation into events at Batang Kali.
“Our lawyers, key personnel of the Committee and Tham Yong, the sole surviving adult witness in Malaysia, were asked and gave undertakings to keep all this material confidential on the understanding it would then be shown to us, as it was to the legal team advising the FCO and the MoD. Despite 111 days has passed since we were informed about the provisional refusal decision, we have still not been given access all documents which are importance to the finding of truth, This has severely impeded our efforts to make any meaningful further representation to the British Government”, said Quek
“This is absolutely unfair. On one hand, the British Government appears to be reasonable in letting us know their provisional decision and giving us the opportunity to change their view, but on the other hand, they are putting constraints and hurdles in disclosing all statements, reports, and evidence pertaining to the killings at Batang Kali.”
Quek is worried about the quest for the truth because the witnesses are dying with the passage of time. Quek added, “With such delaying and unfair tactics by the British Government, we cannot help but to conclude that the British Government is not sincere in releasing the truth. They must have something to hide despite the fact that 61 years have lapsed from the incident. We urge the British Government to make a full and frank disclosure on the documents held by them without any unwarranted delays so that our lawyers may review and make further representations.”