Source: Bernama, June 20, 2010
KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 (Bernama) — The British government is questioned again over its refusal to apologise to the families of 24 Batang Kali massacre victims as it had expressed its regret for the 1972 killings by British troops of 13 protesters in Northern Ireland.
Institute of Public Relations Malaysia president Prof Datuk Mohd Hamdan Adnan said countless demonstrations, petitions and demands for apology and compensation were sought over the years from Westminster over the Batang Kali massacre.
He said the government should set up a public inquiry to enlighten the people and remind the British government on the incident which occurred more than 60 years ago.
“This is necessary as the families of the victims have waited for justice and compensation for a long time,” he told Bernama here Sunday.
The Batang Kali massacre purportedly took place on Dec 12, 1948 during British military operations against communist terrorists after the end of World War II.
It was claimed that the 7th Platoon of the G Company, 2nd Scots Guards, had surrounded a rubber estate at Sungai Rimoh and shot 24 villagers before setting fire to the village.
British Prime Minister David Cameron apologised on Tuesday for the 1972 killings by British troops of 13 protesters on Northern Ireland’s Bloody Sunday after a long-awaited report said all those shot were unarmed.
Mohd Hamdan said if the British government could apologise and admit that there was no justification for the shooting of civilians during a civil rights march on the Bloody Sunday, it should do likewise to the families of 24 Batang Kali massacre victims in the name of justice and human rights.
Historian Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Khoo Kay Khim said the government should create public awareness on the Batang Kali massacre as well as bring it up to the international community to ensure justice for the families of the victims.
“However, the matter should be raised in a healthy and diplomatic way to avoid untoward incidents as some people might misconstrue why the issue is raised and wrongly interpret it. This might lead to more harms to the families,” he said.
He said the apology and compensation could be obtained with strong support from the government and non-governmental organisations.
“What is more important is the process of bringing up the matter to the attention of our government, the British government and in turn, we may have a strong ground if the information and investigations are comprehensive,” he said.
For national literature laureate Datuk A.Samad Said, the people need to educated on the country’s historical events, including the Batang Kali massacre, through articles, essays, novels, theatre and movies.
“This can help raise the spirit of patriotism. The Batang Kali massacre is a historical event which should be appreciated and remembered by the people,” he said, adding that the families deserve justice.
Despite countless demands for an apology and compensation since 1948, the Royal Malaysian Police closed the case in 1997 for lack of evidence.
In January 2009, the British Foreign Office rejected a call for an inquiry but three months later, it was reported that the government was reconsidering the decision.
On April 2, the last witness of the Batang Kali massacre, Tham Yong died at the age of 78.