Batang Kali massacre: Families sue for UK inquiry

Many of us had believed for much of our lives that Britain stood for openness, fairness and honour. The current impasse is neither honourable nor moral.
Batang Kali Massacre Action Committee

The families of four victims of the 1948 Batang Kali massacre near Kuala Lumpur have petitioned the British courts for a judicial review of Britain’s continuing refusal to hold an inquiry into the cold-blooded killing of 24 rubber tappers in Ulu Selangor during the Emergency.

The four are:

  • Loh Ah Choi, who was seven at the time, and says he witnessed his uncle being shot dead;
  • Lim Kok, whose father’s corpse was allegedly beheaded by the soldiers;
  • Chong Nyok Keyu, whose uncle was allegedly shot and killed; and
  • Wooi Kum Thai, whose father was also killed.

A lawyer for the firm representing them told the Guardian: “This case is all about questions which, when they are finally answered, will bring about accountability for a massacre that was as immoral as it was unlawful. For six decades successive governments have gone to extraordinary lengths to evade answering these questions.”

The 24 rubber tappers at Sungei Rimoh estate were shot and killed in cold blood by a 16-man patrol of Scots Guards in December 1948. Two others survived the killings.

Many of the victims’ bodies were found to have been mutilated and their village of Batang Kali was burned to the ground, reports the Guardian. No weapons were found when the village was searched during a military operation against Chinese communists in the post-second world war Malayan emergency.

The British government has refused to apologise for the incident or offer reparations, and last November it said it would not hold a public inquiry into an incident that campaigners dub “Britain’s My Lai massacre”. A recent letter from Treasury solicitors indicates that the government is not prepared to discuss whether the killings were lawful or not.

Batang Kali activist Quek Ngee Meng at a signature campaign in Malacca in 2008

» Video: BBC film on Batang Kali massacre

» A trail of UK government since 1948

» Malaysia aborts police inquiry after UK pressure

» Batang Kali Massacre victims’ campaign web site