Spectre of Batang Kali massacre flares up again

News from Malaysia: The Sun

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 1, 2010): The family of the survivors of the 1948 Batang Kali massacre are renewing their battle for justice in light of the recent admission by the official historian at that time, Prof Anthony Short, that his account of the incident may have been wrong.

In a press conference held today, the counsels appointed to represent the families announced that they have sent a letter of demand to the British government on Sept 3 requesting a full apology and for an independent inquiry to be held to determine the appropriate compensation for the families of those who survived the tragedy.

“There has never been a thorough investigation of this matter. The British government has delayed this matter time and time again. It has requested until the end of November to make a decision on whether to accept or reject the letter of demand,” said counsel for the survivor’s kin in Malaysia, Firoz Hussein.

Prof Short’s about turn was highlighted in an article he wrote in this month’s issue of Asian Affairs Journal entitled The Malayan Emergency and the Batang Kali Incident.

In it, he said that due in part to the publication of Slaughter and Deception at Batang Kali by Ian Ward and Norma Miraflor last year, which tells the most complete account of the killings to date, the brief account that he wrote on the incident in 1975 “seems now to have been wrong”.

On Dec 12, 1948, 14 British troops from the Scots Guard shot dead 24 men in the rubbing-tapping village of Batang Kali, Selangor, before razing the village to the ground.

The troops had given statements that they had been ordered to kill the villagers extra judicially (illegal killing), but was later told to say that it was a mass escape attempt.

What followed was a decades-long fight to expose the truth of what happened that day and to seek reparation for the crimes committed.

In 1949, an official investigation by the Attorney-General of Malaya was carried out but concluded that the shooting was justified.

It was not until 1970 that another formal investigation was carried out after an English newspaper, The People, exposed the incident. However, a change in British government that same year caused investigations to come to a halt.

In 1993, the survivors sent a petition to Queen Elizabeth II for justice to be done, and lodged a police report in Bukit Aman.

However, in 1997, the police investigation was declared closed due to lack of evidence.



British historian admits Batang Kali slaughter, says Chinese associations

News from Malaysia: The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 — The British official historian of the Malayan Emergency has withdrawn his official account of the Batang Kali massacre of 24 unarmed villagers by British troops in 1948, said the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia today.

In a November 2010 issue of the Asian Affairs journal, Professor Anthony Short wrote that his brief account of the Batang Kali incident “seems now to have been wrong”.

“Professor Anthony Short, writing in the November issue of the respected Asian Affairs journal, describes the British Army patrol’s mass killing of 24 unarmed Chinese plantation workers in December, 1948, as a ‘matter of dispute, recrimination, dishonesty, disgrace and disguise’,” Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia Tan Sri Pheng Yih Huah told reporters today.

Short, also the author of ‘The Communist Insurrection in Malaya, 1948-1960’, wrote that eyewitness accounts of detonators exploding when the kongsis (traditional meeting halls) were burned may have been true, but could not have caused British soldiers to open fire as the torching of the village happened after the shootings.

“Likewise, burning bamboo explodes and can sound like rifle or automatic fire. But again, this could only have been a reason for the soldiers to open fire if it had happened first,” wrote Short in his article titled “The Malayan Emergency and the Batang Kali Incident” that was made available to reporters.

The 7th Platoon of the G Company, 2nd Scots Guards, reportedly surrounded a rubber estate at Sungai Rimoh, Batang Kali, and shot 24 Chinese civilians before setting fire to the village on December 12, 1948, at the start of a 12-year communist insurgency in former Malaya.

Official accounts describe the villagers, who were suspected guerrillas, being killed as they attempted a mass escape into the jungle, wrote Short.

However, the last Malaysian adult witness to the massacre called Tham Yong — who died in April this year — reportedly said that the soldiers had led the men out in the morning, after locking them overnight in a hut, and shot them in the back.

Following the killings, Yong reportedly found that many bodies had been mutilated with their heads hacked off and genitals smashed.

Short stressed that the families of the massacre’s victims should be given reparation, pointing out that the inquiry on the 1972 killings by British troops of 13 unarmed protesters on Northern Ireland’s Bloody Sunday cost nearly £200 million.

“Is there any reason why a fraction of that amount should not be given to the victims of historic misfortune in Malaysia?” wrote Short, who taught history at the University of Malaya for six years.

Short noted that the four-year research of former war correspondent Ian Ward and his wife Norma Miraflor that was documented in their book, “Slaughter and Deception at Batang Kali”,  resulted in a “proper account” of the stain on Britain’s military history.

“Thanks to their tenacity, we now have a proper account of a story that has been running for more than 60 years,” he wrote.

Lawyer for the victims’ families Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin also noted that they were making progress in their journey to obtain justice from the British government that has, so far, not made any prosecutions or launched an official probe since two investigations in 1949 and 1970.

In January 2009, the British Foreign Office rejected a call for an inquiry citing the lack of new evidence. Three months later, however, Westminster was reportedly reconsidering the decision.

“I’m pleased to say we’ve gone further than in the past 62 years,” said Firoz Hussein today.

“They (British government) have told us that they need until the end of November this year to make a decision,” he added.

The lawyer said that a letter before claim had been submitted to Westminster on September 3 this year, asking for an official apology and a public inquiry to determine the amount of reparation for the victims’ surviving kin.
































方天兴:备忘录近期呈英国索偿 “峇冬加里屠杀案”掌新证


■ 方天兴挑战英政府面临挑战,即40年前被任命为官方史学家安东尼.索特承认其历史记载错误。











他写道:“作为对比,在‘血腥星期天’(Bloody Sunday)这起惨案中,英军在北爱尔兰打死13名手无寸铁的平民,但是听证会的费用就已接近2亿英镑,我看不出来为何这费用的一部份不能赔偿给马来西亚惨遭历史悲剧的死者。若英政府承认这是一起‘无心的错误’,那就能有尊严的为这起备受争议的事件划上句号。”


‘I was wrong,’ admits historian over claims of Malaya massacre

News from UK: Guardian.co.uk

Police with locals under suspicion of collaborating with communist bandits during the Malayan emergency. Photograph: Bert Hardy/Getty Images


(Sunday 7 November 2010) A public inquiry into one of Britain’s darkest postwar military incidents, the alleged massacre of 24 unarmed villagers by UK troops in Malaya, has moved a step closer after the official British historian of the “Malayan emergency” last week withdrew his account of the 1948 incident. Professor Anthony Short said his initial report absolving British troops was “wrong”.

The plantation workers were shot by a 16-man patrol of the Scots Guards. Many of the victims’ bodies were reported to have been mutilated, and the village of Batang Kali was burned to the ground.

The British government has refused to apologise for the incident or offer reparation, although ministers are currently reconsidering whether to launch an independent inquiry into the alleged massacre later this month, a move that could pave the way for compensation to families.

John Halford, a partner at the law firm Bindmans, who is acting for one of the few surviving eyewitnesses of the killings, said: “The families of those arbitrarily killed at Batang Kali have waited 62 years for an acknowledgement that what happened defied the most basic legal and moral standards.”

Short, in an article entitled “The Malayan emergency and the Batang Kali incident”, describes the shootings as a “matter of dispute, recrimination, dishonesty, disgrace and disguise”.


Legal Battle Looms Over Scots Guards Jungle Massacre

News from UK: Express.co.uk


Malaysian families claim Scots Guards soldiers murdered their relatives in a jungle massacre

(Sunday 7 November 2010) TAXPAYERS could be forced to shell out millions of pounds to Malaysian families who claim Scots Guards soldiers murdered their relatives in a jungle massacre more than 60 years ago.

Lawyers are preparing to launch legal action against the UK Government by the end of the month unless ministers agree to set up a public inquiry into the incident.

A new probe into the shooting of 24 unarmed men at a remote village called Batang Kali in 1948 would be hugely expensive and could trigger massive compensation payments.

The Army has always said the suspected insurgents were attempting to escape from custody, although this has been disputed by eyewitnesses and even some of the guardsmen themselves.

None of the villagers who survived Batang Kali are still alive, however, following the recent death of 78-year-old woman Tham Fong. But London-based law firm Bindmans is now acting on behalf of their children and other relatives.

Partner Stephen Grosz, a human rights expert, told the Sunday Express: “We have established there wasn’t any law that enabled these soldiers to shoot these people whatever they were doing. We want the Government to set up a public inquiry and make reparation.

“If they fail to do so, we will launch a Judicial Review of that decision in the High Court. We are not suggesting anybody should be prosecuted or that there should be a criminal investigation against the soldiers. The goal is to get closure for the families of the victims. The British Army should be setting standards of rectitude and propriety and if they have done something wrong that should be admitted. Normal international law states there is a duty to make reparation and that can take a number of forms, including compensation.”

He added: “They are looking for the truth, it is not at this moment primarily an exercise in compensation seeking.”

Campaigners in Malaysia are also calling for an official apology from Prime Minister David Cameron, similar to the one he offered following the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. At the time, the news that so many “bandits” had been gunned down was greeted with jubilant newspaper headlines in Malaya and in Britain. An investigation by Scotland Yard found no evidence of wrongdoing.

But, in 1970, five of the soldiers came forward to admit they had shot the men in cold blood on the orders of their patrol leader, a 22-year-old sergeant. Despite a national outcry, the Government of the day refused to open a public inquiry and the issue was eventually dropped.

Yesterday, Mr Grosz said his team had been given access to top secret documents suggesting the orders actually came from higher up the chain of command. He said: “Certainly there appears to have been a briefing given to the two sergeants who led the patrol from a commanding officer before they went out. There is a dispute about what the content of that briefing was but the evidence suggests that they were carrying out instructions.”

Furthermore, said Mr Grosz, even if the official version of events was correct, there was no legal basis for the soldiers’ actions as the “shout before you shoot” regulations were not passed until the following month. “The extent to which the authorities tried to legalise it retrospectively we found absolutely shocking,” he said.

Mr Grosz added that his team had spoken to some of the surviving guardsmen, now in their 80s, but none wanted to give a new statement. Last night, Tory backbench MP Patrick Mercer said: “A Scotland Yard inquiry was held and that exonerated the Scots Guardsmen. If there are no witnesses alive on the Malaysian side then I think the appellants are going to have a difficult time proving their case. That doesn’t mean there is no case to answer but I do wonder about the slightly grubby aspect of compensation being sought by individuals who were not there.”

Lieutenant Colonel Tex Pemberton, chairman of the National Malaya and Borneo Association, said: “I would be surprised if the investigation at the time was not carried out properly.”

The Foreign Office and the MoD both said they were planning to respond to the calls for a public inquiry by the end of the month.