It’s more than a little disappointing to find the BBC describing the 1948 Scots Guards massacre of 24 ethnic Chinese rubber plantation workers in Malaya as “alleged”. Sadly, there is little “alleged” about the massacre. Members of the Scots Guards patrol involved have given sworn affidavits that they were ordered to kill the men at settlement and the soldiers who did not want to be involved were sent to guard the women. The women also maintained that the men at Batang Kali were murdered in cold blood. Only the official British version maintains that all 24 men were shot while trying to escape. Common-sense suggests that the lack of wounded male villagers points directly to a massacre taking place.
The BBC was reporting the welcome news that there is to be a judicial review, probably next Spring into a British government decision a year ago to refuse to hold a proper public inquiry into the incident. A Scotland Yard investigation in the early 1970s, after members of the patrol told a Sunday newspaper that they had taken part in a pre-mediated massacre, was shutdown before it could be completed.
It’s pretty obvious that Batang Kali was selected for the massacre because it was suspected to be a supply base for the Communist guerrillas operating in that part of Malaya. The lesson intended by the massacre was learned and there was no further trouble in Batang Kali area. If a proper inquiry had ever been conducted while the adult villagers present in 1948 were still alive, it's possible that it might even have revealed that some of the men killed were active guerrillas. Or may they were indeed have been nothing but rubber plantation workers. But the British Government decided that the most important thing was to protect whoever ordered the killings. The fact that lorries arrived at the settlement to take the women folk away shows that the killings were not the work of a “rogue” patrol but part of a well organised operation. It would appear that the Scots Guards came into Batang Kali from the jungle, rather than via the road, in an attempt to surprise the guerrillas believed to be operating out of the settlement. The British Government does not protect the reputations of ordinary squaddies. So who has it been protecting?