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Back to Batang Kali

So, it now turns out that as recently as 1993 the British government helped torpedo an investigation into a massacre of around two dozen rubber ethnic-Chinese plantation workers in 1948 by a Scots Guards patrol in Malaya. Malaysian detectives had wanted to come to Britain in 1993 to interview former soldiers who have admitted that the workers were killed in cold blood and that there was no  mass escape attempt; as the British Government claimed in 1948. But the Foreign Office managed to pressure the Malaysian authorities into dropping their inquiry into the massacre.
A Scotland Yard inquiry, launched after members of the patrol came forward to admit there had been a massacre in the early 1970s, was also closed down when Labour was voted out and replaced by a Tory government. It’s not clear if the 1993 inquiry shutdown was due to another Tory government being in power.
What happened at Batang Kali is pretty well known by now. The two big questions remaining are “why” and “why the continued cover-up”. The British government does not protect squaddies. Who is it protecting? The women and children at the plantation were taken away in army trucks. A “rogue” patrol doesn’t order up trucks. It obviously continues to suit Her Majesty’s Government that there is an “official” shot-while-trying-to-escape version of events and a second “unofficial” version in which the finger of blame is pointed no higher than the members of the Scots Guards patrol.
Last November the Government refused to hold a new inquiry into the massacre and now it is threatening relatives of the victims with having to pay the legal costs of a judicial review of that decision if it fails. Isn’t it time the full truth came out? Don’t we owe both the victims’ families and the surviving patrol members that? I’ll say it again, the British Government does not run cover-ups to protect squaddies. 


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