I have begun researching a new book - in general terms it is about the decolonisation of Southeast Asia. But it is focused on the 'Malayan Emergency' and the creation of the Malayan, and later Malaysian nation. In this blog, I will report back from the research frontline.
On 18 April, the UK National Archives in Kew will release formerly secret documents concerning a number of British former colonial possessions, including Malaya.
This was announced on the web site of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and by the National Archives.
I shall be at the Archives on the 18th - and will report back again after that.
In early May, I will attend a trial at the Royal Courts of Justice about the Batang Kali massacre that took place in December, 1948 at a tiny plantation village. It is not disputed that a platoon of Scots Guards entered Batang Kali - and that 24 male villagers were shot dead. For 64 years, successive British governments have refused to conduct an official public enquiry into what happened. The lawfulness of these decisions will be judged at the trial. Because this is an open public hearing, a number of secret documents about the Batang Kali massacre should become available.
Here are some powerful comments from Bindmans website...
Quek Ngee Meng, coordinator of the Action Committee Condemning the Batang Kali Massacre commented:
'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. We do not expect the British Government to reverse its stance, but it should immediately and unconditionally release all documents relating to this massacre and the aborted attempts to investigate in the past so the Court that hears this case, and the public, have a complete picture.'
Chong Nyok Keyu, the first Claimant in the case:
'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. 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.'
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