A number of reviewers – and most of the reviews have been generally favourable – criticised the title ‘Massacre in Malaya: Exposing Britain’s My Lai‘. They point out that book is not exclusively about the Batang Kali massacre (a misnomer in any case) and that the murder of 24 Chinese villagers in Malaya is not comparable to the killing of nearly two hundred civilians in ‘My Lai’. I can’t disagree. The original title of the book – which was suggested by literary agent Peter Robinson – was ‘The War without a Name’. In their wisdom the publisher who eventually took the book wanted something more ‘dramatic’. Hence ‘Massacre in Malaya’. A shame.
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Re reading History Today…
I was curious to read again the short article that I wrote about Batang Kali before writing ‘Massacre in Malaya’… Here is it is: Christopher Hale reports on a long campaign to discover the truth about the killing of Malayan villagers by British troops in 1948. Eyewitness: villager Romen Bose Tham, pictured in 2008. Getty Images/AFPFor two days in May the restless spirits of 24 men shot dead by British soldiers in a Malayan village 64 years ago haunted Court Three of London’s Royal Courts of Justice. The incident is often referred to as Britain’s My Lai – after the Vietnam War atrocity when ‘Charlie Company’, led by Lt. William Calley, murdered between 307 and 504 unarmed civilians on March 16th, 1968. This year, after a long campaign, lawyers acting for the relatives of the dead men finally persuaded the British government to reconsider what they assert is ‘a grotesque, on-going injustice’. Since the killings at Batang Kali more than six decades ago successive British governments have refused to hold a public enquiry into what took place. The decision whether to proceed with an enquiry will not be known for some time. Even so, the proceedings in Court Three generated […]
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