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From the National Archives, Kew 18 April 2012

I flew to London this morning for the release of the Colonial administration records, which includes a tranche of documents about Malaya, Brunei, Borneo and Sabah. First of all the disappointments. There is nothing about the 1948 Batang Kali incident, when a platoon of Scots Guards murdered 24 Chinese villagers, which implies that relevant records were destroyed at some point after independence. This fact alone suggests that the British administration in post war Malaya concluded that they had a lot to hide.  Tony Stockwell, who has edited a multi volume collection of British documents about Malaya emailed me to say:  …if there were to be a government inquiry or litigation, the British government would find it very difficult, if not impossible, to produce evidence in its defence because it either failed to keep a record at the time or has destroyed it since. In FCO24/851 there is a brief but telling comment by an FCO official who had drawn a blank when asked to call up the relevant papers at the time of the Healey inquiry in 1970. The official reported that the Colonial Office file on the Batang Kali incident had been destroyed under the provisions of the Public […]
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Introduction to this blog

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 […]
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