Asia-Pacific

British 'massacre' in Malaya in 1948 to be reviewed

Malaysians seeking an inquiry into the 1948 killing of 24 villagers by British troops have welcomed a decision by London's High Court to review the case.

The alleged massacre at Batang Kali happened when Malaya was part of the British Empire.

Families of the ethnic Chinese victims have been campaigning for decades for a public inquiry and compensation.

The British authorities at the time claimed the men were insurgents killed as they tried to escape.

The killings occurred during the so-called Malayan Emergency, a communist-inspired revolt against the British authorities which lasted until the late 1950s.

The decision follows the recent court case by veterans of the Mau Mau rebellion against the British colonial authorities in Kenya in the 1950s.

Quek Ngee Meng, co-ordinator of the Action Committee Condemning the Batang Kali Massacre, said: "After decades of seeking redress for the Batang Kali massacre's victims we can now, finally, see the light of justice at the end of the tunnel.

"Despite the ingenious technical arguments put by the British government to try and keep this case out of court, and their attempts to frighten us with the threat of legal costs, an unequivocal message has been sent by British judges in the Kenya Mau Mau case and now our own: that there can be no cover up of massacres or other dishonourable and immoral acts committed on behalf of British colonial authorities in living memory."

Chong Nyok Keyu, who is one of the claimants in the case, said: "I wish my late mother, Tham Yong, who survived the massacre, could have lived to see the brighter side of the British judicial system, which has granted us the fair hearing that has been so long denied.

'Grotesque'

"We are truly hopeful the outcome will be the inquiry we seek, where my mother's and many other eye witnesses' stories will be publicly heard and the truth is made known to all. This grant of permission affirms my faith in British justice.

"It honours my mother's memory, my own country and the UK."

John Halford, a solicitor representing the claimants, said: "This is not a historical matter for the victims' families nor their community in Malaysia.

"It is a grotesque, ongoing injustice which will now receive the proper judicial scrutiny it demands."

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was unavailable for comment.

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