There’s a glimmer of hope that the British Government may still be persuaded to hold a proper inquiry into the Batang Kali Massacre in 1948. That’s when a patrol of Scots Guards executed around two dozen ethnic Chinese rubber plantation workers in Malaya. Official claims that the men were shot while trying to escape from questioning have long been discredited. According to media reports from Malaysia, the families of the workers have succeeded in getting Legal Aid to help meet the costs of seeking a judicial review of a recent British government decision not to hold a public inquiry into the killings. The families had been warned by British government lawyers that they could be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal costs.
British Government has been determined for more than 60 years that the truth about the massacre should remain hidden. A Scotland Yard inquiry in the 1970s ordered by Labour after a Sunday paper published admissions from some of the soldiers involved that there had been a premeditated massacre was shut down when the Tories took power. In 1993 another Tory administration succeeded in persuading the Malaysian authorities to drop a police investigation into the killings.
The use of army lorries to take the women and children away from the plantation before the mass murder began points to this being more than the work of a rogue patrol. For me the big question is who is the government protecting? It doesn’t have a particularly strong record when it comes to protecting squaddies. So, what is Whitehall so afraid will come out?