Batang Kali massacre
The Batang Kali massacre was a war crime that involved the indiscriminate killing of 24 unarmed villagers by British troops on 12 December 1948 during the Malayan Emergency. The incident happened during counter-insurgency operations against Malay and Chinese communists in Malaya - then a colony of the British Crown. It is sometimes described as "Britain's My Lai".[by whom?]
Despite several investigations by the British government since the 1950s, as well as, a re-examination of the evidence by the Royal Malaysia Police between 1993 and 1997, no charges have ever been brought against any of the alleged perpetrators.
After World War II, the British returned to Malaya to recover control from Japanese military forces. During the war, even after their withdrawal, the British government supported guerrilla forces that continued to fight the Japanese. Following the war, these guerrilla forces did not completely disband and served as the foundation for anti-British resistance. Agitating for independence and turning towards communism, these forces targeted British commercial interests, attacking rubber plantations and tin mines. By June 1948, escalating violence and the assassinations of several prominent British landowners led British authorities in Malaya to declare an “Emergency,” giving the police and government greater flexibility in prosecuting the war against the insurgents. Although the British had extensive experience in jungle warfare, most recently in the Burma Campaign during World War II, military leaders had not formalized this experience into a specific jungle warfare curriculum.
As the Malayan conflict continued, British authorities refined these efforts. However, in the early days of the Emergency, this training exposed British soldiers to the extremes of the jungle environment and reinforced basic military skills. The major problem is that British troops in Malaya at the outset of the Emergency received almost no training in the laws of war. The Basic Military Training curriculum focused on “drill, weapons training, gas training, physical training, education, health and religious training.” There is some mention of the United Nations, but no discussion of the laws of war. Even in documents about officer training, there is no mention of international law or protection afforded civilians. Michael Gilbert, member of the Suffolk Regiment, described his training: “teaching you how to march, how to handle a rifle, and how to behave in a soldierly manner.” Training focused primarily on skills needed in conventional combat, not skills needed in policing or counterinsurgency operations where the presence of civilians could complicate tactical decisions. Rather than officers training them in the principles of the laws of war, many soldiers noted that the purpose of basic training seemed to be to break down any individual resistance to obeying orders. Raymond Burdett, member of the Suffolk Regiment, reflected on his experience; the trainers sought “to get us to follow instructions, not to question commands.” Basic training for these troops focused on infantry skills, not their ability to judge the appropriateness of orders in the context of international law.
In December 1948, 7th Platoon, G Company, 2nd Scots Guards surrounded a rubber plantation at Sungai Rimoh near Batang Kali in Selangor. Therefore, they encountered a group of unarmed civilians. During this time, shooting was heard. In total 24 unarmed villagers were killed before the village was set on fire. The only survivor of the killings was a man named Chong Hong who was in his 20s at the time. He fainted and was presumed dead. Other eyewitnesses include the victims' spouses and children such as Tham Yong, aged 17 and Loh Ah Choy, who was aged seven at the time.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (December 2012)|
In the 1960s, Denis Healey, the British Defence Secretary instructed Scotland Yard to set up a special task force (led by Frank Williams) to investigate the matter. An alleged lack of evidence gave the incoming Conservative government an excuse to drop the investigation in 1970.
On 9 September 1992, a BBC documentary, an investigative report into the massacre entitled "In Cold Blood" was aired in the United Kingdom and revealed fresh evidence. The documentary included accounts from witnesses and survivors, including confessions of an ex-Scots Guards soldier and interviews with the Scotland Yard police officers who had investigated the case in 1970.
On 14 July 1993 a police report was lodged by three survivors, accompanied by the MCA Public Service and Complaints Bureau Chief Michael Chong.
On 18 September 1993, however, Gavin Hewitt (Head of South East Asia Department of the Foreign Office, UK) stated that "No new evidence has been uncovered by the British authorities to warrant the setting up of another official inquiry into the alleged massacre of 24 villagers in Batang Kali…"
On 30 December 1997, an investigation report was submitted to the Royal Malaysian Police Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah Bukit Aman. The case was closed on the grounds of insufficient evidence for prosecution.
On 25 March 2008, the family members of the massacre victims and several NGOs formed an 'Action Committee Condemning the Batang Kali Massacre' and submitted a petition to the British High Commission in Malaysia. The petition seeks official apology, compensation for the family members of the 24 massacre victims and financial contribution towards the educational and cultural development of the Ulu Yam community.
On 30 January 2009, the Foreign Office in Britain rejected a call for an inquiry into the massacre of villagers. On 24 April 2009, the British government announced that it was reconsidering this decision. In January 2012, lawyers for the victims and their families were given Foreign Office correspondence and Cabinet Office guidance relating to the incident.
On 30 April 2009, The Independent reported that the British government bowed to legal action and agreed to reinvestigate the massacre. Secret papers uncovered by Mrs. Tham's solicitors, Bindmans, now show that the colonial Attorney General who exonerated the British troops of any wrongdoing at the time privately believed that mass public executions might deter other insurgents. A second document reveals that officials at the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur had briefed ministers that there was little point in Scotland Yard officers interviewing eyewitnesses in the 1970s because Malaysian villagers were untrustworthy, motivated by compensation and it was "doubtful" they could recall events 22 years earlier.
On 2 April 2010, Tham Yong, 78, the last Malaysian adult witness to the alleged massacre of 24 unarmed villagers by British troops in 1948, died, leaving the campaign for an official investigation uncertain.
Malaysian victims unsuccessfully petitioned Queen Elizabeth to re-open an inquiry into the massacre in 1993 and in 2004. They tried again in 2008 and didn't receive a reply from the British government until 2011, when the High Court agreed to review the case.
In May 2012 the judicial review on the British government's position was held at the High Court in London. On 4 September 2012, the High Court's judges in London upheld a government decision not to hold a public hearing into the killing. The Court also ruled that Britain was responsible for the killing in Batang Kali. In its written judgement, it said, "There is evidence that supports a deliberate execution of the 24 civilians at Batang Kali." 
- "New documents reveal cover-up of 1948 British 'massacre' of villagers in Malaya". The Guardian. 9 April 2011.
- "Malaysian lose fight for 1948 'massacre' inquiry". 4 September 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- The Other Forgotten War: Understanding atrocities during the Malayan Emergency
- UK rejects massacre inquiry call, UK: BBC News, January 30, 2009.
- Malay massacre evidence to be reviewed by the UK government, UK: BBC News, April 28, 2009.
- Bowcott, Owen (26 January 2012). "Batang Kali relatives edge closer to the truth about 'Britain's My Lai massacre'". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
- Verkaik, Robert (April 30, 2009), 60 years on, Malaya massacre by British troops to be investigated, Home news, London: The Independent.
- Engelhart, Katie (December 2012). "Rule Britannia: Empire on Trial", World Policy Journal.
- "Malayan 'massacre' families seek UK inquiry". BBC NEWS. 7 May 2012. Retrieved May 2012.
- "High Court ruling". Reuters. 4 September 2012.
- Short, Anthony. (2010, November). The Malayan Emergency and the Batang Kali Incident. Asian Affairs, 41:3, 337–354. Abstract, retrieved December 30, 2010.
- Ward, Ian, and Norma Miraflor. (2009). Slaughter and Deception at Batang Kali. Singapore: Media Masters.
- Condemning Batang Kali Massacre Signature Campaign and Legal Action against the British Government
- Malaysian account of massacre
- A Scottish viewpoint
- BBC Malaysia Correspondent's account
- Morning Star newspaper feature 'A murder revisited'