My father, Quek Jin Teck passed away at 3:45am on 2 January 2010 at Hospital Kuala Lumpur.
He was diagnosed with diabetic’s related peripheral vascular disease on 1 December 2009. The doctor advised him to remove the dead tissue at his right foot by amputating 3 toes. After seeking second opinion and pondering overnight, he went for the operation and discharged after staying 8 nights in Selayang Hospital.
We were under the impression that it was a minor operation and my father would be able to participate in full swing some social activities including the campaign seeking redress for the surviving families of Batang Kali massacre.
His initial plan was to rest and retire in this small village. But the stubborn facts of the historical wrong happened many decades ago did not allow him to do so. The village folks talked about Batang Kali massacre, the BBC crews filming of the “In Cold Blood” documentary, and how social workers like Michael Chong of MCA and veteran politician Lim Kit Siang of DAP had attempted to seek justice but both failed. His interest of putting the historical records right was stirred. He persuaded local Chinese Clans, NGOs and surviving family members to set up the Action Committee Condemning the Batang Kali Massacre in January 2008. My father was elected as the Chairperson. 2 months later, they submitted to the British High Commissioner a petition which sought official apology and compensation from the British Government.
My father once told me that the history must correctly portray the roles played by different ethnics. He felt strongly against any marginalization or removal of Malayan Chinese contribution toward nation building in the 40s and 50s. Despite not formally trained in the discipline of history, he did vast research on the roles played by Chinese during there turbulent period. He visited and collected many raw data and evidence from eye-witnesses or their descendents, even though his health was deteriorating after kidney failures. His persistency inspired and touched me. I joined the Action Committee few days after the petition went to the British High Commissioner because he needed legal input badly.
He and his committee decided to take civil action in the British Court if the petition was left with deaf ear. This approach is unprecedented if compared with the previous 2 futile attempts to seek redress. Putting this strategy into action, the London legal team heads by Bindmans LLP is ensuing a legal battle against both Ministry of Defence and Foreign Commonwealth Office.
Despite lying in hospital bed, he concerned with the organizing and progress of the 12 December Mourning Ceremony of those victims killed at Batang Kali 61 years ago. He checked and reminded repeatedly the program flow, the police permit, the press invitation, the press release, the banner, the invitees and others. He wanted to attend with help of wheel chair but was eventually denied by his condition. The vascular disease at his right foot was spreading.
4 days after discharged from hospital, he was readmitted. He went through a second operation with his right foot below knee amputated on 18 December. The damned curse of operation went on and the third was done on 27 December with the amputation done above the knee, which is the maximum length where a leg amputation can reach.
He suffered and endured anxiety and pain. I was with him during this difficult period. Besides translating and making sure my father comprehend the doctors’ advice, I motivated him. In fact, both of us had agreed to complete few works soon after he discharged from hospital. We also decided to tackle the root cause of amputation by attempting to do a by-pass at his left leg. We were told that there are top vascular surgeons at Hospital Kuala Lumpur and he was transferred on 30 December.
Before any operation could be done, he left peacefully in his sleep. I were surprise because no specialist cautioned me that his life was in critical stage.
I learn to accept his forever departure. I respect his relentless efforts in filling the historical gaps left by the official records. I will continue his unfinished jobs in seeking redress for the Batang Kali killings.
“You must be tired. Please rest well. Pa.”
Quek Ngee Meng
Eldest Son of late Quek Jin Teck and Coordinator, Voluntary Lawyer of the Action Committee Condemning the Batang Kali Massacre