By Chandra Muzaffar
It is commendable that the Malaysian Government is getting members of Parliament regardless of their political affiliation to sign a petition seeking an official apology from the British Government for the Batang Kali massacre of 12 December 1948.
This infamous massacre of 24 poor, unarmed, innocent villagers is one of the worst injustices perpetrated by British troops during the colonial period. A couple of eye witness accounts, investigative reports and television documentaries over the last few decades have established beyond any doubt that those massacred were not supporters or sympathisers of the militant, underground Malayan Communist Party (MCP). The Scots Guards who were responsible for the massacre were clearly wrong in branding them as “bandits.”
Though a British Court decided in early September this year not to institute a public inquiry into the massacre since “there are obviously enormous difficulties in conducting an inquiry into a matter that happened over 63 years ago”, the relatives of the victims intend to pursue the issue right up to the Supreme Court. Whatever the eventual verdict, the British Government has to take responsibility and apologise to the kith and kin of the massacred since the High Court had upheld that the victims were civilians and unarmed.
Apart from an apology, the British government should also give serious consideration to two other demands of the relatives of the Batang Kali episode. One, it should grant “reasonable compensation to the descendants of the massacred victims” and two, it should make a financial contribution towards the construction of a memorial to remember the 24 dead villagers, mostly rubber tappers.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar,
International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
28 October 2012.