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Tuesday March 25, 2008

Descendants of 1948 massacre ask for RM509mil compensation

MYT 6:03:43 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: Four years after the 1948 Batang Kali massacre case was closed by the Attorney-General's Chambers, descendants and family members of the victims are sending another petition to Queen Elizabeth II of England to seek "an apology and reasonable compensation".  

The petition stated that they appealed to the queen to "appoint an official to publicly apologise to the Chinese community in Ulu Yam, the family members and descendants of the massacre victims" and to its sole survivor - 82-year-old Chong Fong, who was then 22.  

Prepared by the Action Committee Condemning the Batang Kali Massacre, the petition also requested for a reasonable compensation of about £80mil (RM509mil).  

"£30mil (RM191mil) to be paid to the family members and descendants of the massacre victims (25 households). 

"And £50mil (RM318mil) to the Chinese community in Ulu Yam for the purposes of education and cultural development," said action committee chairman Quek Jin Teck in the petition.  

The committee members and family members were present in a press conference Tuesday headed by headed by MCA vice-president Datuk Ong Tee Keat and its Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong.  

Earlier, members of the action committee and six family members of the victims had turned up at the British High Commission here to hand over the petition.  

The Deputy High Commissioner to Malaysia Patrick Moody received the petition.  

It was reported that on Dec 12, 1948, soldiers from the Seventh Platoon of the Scots Guards (a troop under the British army) had detained 25 villagers from Sungai Remuk rubber estate and gunned them down in Batang Kali, believing they were communists.  

The massacre was brought to light in 1992, when the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) broadcasted a documentary entitled In Cold Blood, unveiling the slaughter to the world.  

In 1993, a petition to the Queen was submitted to the British High Commission from four petitioners comprising three eyewitnesses and the sole survivor, Chong, requesting that "necessary action be taken to prosecute the person or persons involved in the cold blooded massacre".  

It was also reported that based on the police report lodged by the survivor, police investigated the case under Section 302 of the Penal Code, and investigations were then referred to the A-G's Chambers on Dec 30, 1997. 

In 2004, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was also Internal Security Minister then, said the case was closed as there was no evidence to charge anyone. 

"These villagers were unarmed innocent commoners with no intention to resist detention.  

"However, all villagers were shot by the British army without any due investigation. All were killed except one who is still alive today," the petition said.  

It added that the brutal murders committed by the British army was concealed by the then British colonial government, and no one has been prosecuted or investigated on account of it.  

"The crimes of the past should not be forgotten. We are of the opinion that the British Government should take full responsibility for the incident," it said.  

At the press conference, Ong, who received a copy of the petition, said that he would "pursue the matter and follow up the petition".  

"We want justice to prevail, although it has been delayed for so long.  

"We will also keep Wisma Putra informed of the developments as soon as possible, and we want to seek a reply from the relevant authorities," he said.

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