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Clock runs out

I may be a little late with this one. I've just learned that the last remaining adult villager who witnessed the Scots Guards' 1948 massacre at Batang Kali in Malaya has died. Tham Yong's fiancé was among the 24 ethnic Chinese rubber plantation workers executed by a patrol from the Scots Guards who believed the men to be supporters of a local Communist guerrilla band, if not active members of it.
Last year the British Government refused to hold a proper inquiry into the massacre. I guess without the old lady, there's little hope that there will ever be a meaningful inquiry now. Several members of the patrol are still alive and their admissions that, contrary to official statements in 1948, the workers had not been shot "while trying to escape" led to an investigation by British civilian police detectives in the early 1970s. The inquiry was shut down when the ruling party in the UK changed. A lot of people would say these old soldiers should be left in peace. I certainly don't want to see any of them in a police cell. What I hate is a successful cover-up. Tham Yong was on record as saying the women and children were removed from the plantation compound in army trucks before the shooting started. That suggests more than a "rogue patrol" was involved. Batang Kali has been compared to My Lai in Vietnam. Is the comparison fair? I don't know, because the full facts about Batang Kali have never come out. I do know that Batang Kali remains a blot of Britain's reputation in much of the Third World. To ignore a cover-up is to be complicit in it.



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