1940-1949 | Burning villages | Civilians slaughtered | Malaysia | Prisoners murdered

British troops murder 24 unarmed civilians in Malaya

12 December 1948 On 12 December 1948, British troops executed 24 unarmed labourers, after separating them from the women and children at a Malayan rubber plantation at Sungai Rimoh, near the small town of Batang Kali. The men were subjected to mock executions before being herded into a hut where they were shot down with automatic…

1990-1999 | Malaysia

High court – government illegally linked aid to arms sales

10 November 1994 On 10 November 1994, the High Court ruled that the British Government had acted illegally in linking a huge aid transfer of £234 million for the Pergau Dam in Malaysia to a colossal arms sale of £1.3 billion to the country.  The development assistance package had also broken another fundamental legal requirement…

1940-1949 | Burning villages | Collective punishments | Malaysia | Punitive operations

British troops burn the Malayan village of Kachau

2 November 1948 On 2 November 1948, British troops and colonial police burned down the village of Kachau in the Malayan state of Selangor. The four hundred inhabitants were given two hours to collect their belongings.  Arthur Creech Jones, the secretary of state for the colonies, questioned about the incident in the House of Commons,…

1940-1949 | Detention without trial | Malaysia

Malayan democracy activist detained without trial for seven years

1 July 1948 On 1 July 1948, Sir Edward Gent, the governor of Malaya, using special emergency powers to prevent the threat of a popular insurgency against British rule, ordered the detention of Ahmad Boestamam, a leading democracy activist. At the time of his arrest, Boestamam had not given up the hope for independence through…

1940-1949 | Malaysia | Opium

War office plans to ensure supply of opium to Malaya after its liberation

18 April 1945 Today in 1945, in a memorandum from the British War Office to Allied Land Forces South East Asia (ALFSEA), instructions were issued to ensure that opium be supplied in vast quantities to Malaya once it was liberated from the Japanese, who had also found the drug essential to keep the population pacified….

1940-1949 | Malaysia

Secret memo argues economic interests should trump constitutional reforms

2 April 1949 On 2 April 1949, a secret Foreign Office memorandum highlighted the British concern to prevent the people of Malaya being handed control over their own rich tin and rubber resources. 83% of Malaya’s rubber plantation acreage was European owned and most of that by British companies. In 1947 the colony’s rubber output…

1950-1959 | Collective punishments | Curfews | Malaysia | Media propaganda

Town deemed ‘cowardly’ punished with sharp rice ration cut and curfew

26 March 1952 On 26 March 1952,  General Walter Templer, the British High Commissioner in Malaya, informed three hundred leading members of the Malayan, Chinese and Indian communities of Tanjong Malim that the entire town’s population of five thousand was to be subjected to a harsh collective punishment for an indefinite period.  It followed an…

1940-1949 | Malaysia | Murdering labour activists

Colonial police in Malaya beat worker to death in ‘justifiable homicide’

28 February 1947 On 28 February 1947, colonial police in the Malayan town of Bedong clubbed an Indian rubber plantation to worker to death. He had merely stepped forward from a crowd of protesters shouting ‘We are not anti-government – We are only against the drinking of toddy.’ A coroner ruled that it was ‘justifiable homicide.’1 …

1950-1959 | Chemical weapons | Environmental devastation | Malaysia | Starvation campaigns

Britain initiates first ever herbicidal war in Malaya

14 January 1951 On 14 January 1951, military commanders and Colonial Office staff held a meeting in London to discuss a request from General Sir Gerald Templer, the High Commissioner in Malaya, who wished to drench extensive areas of jungle with chemical defoliants as part of a strategy to crush a communist insurgency by depriving…

1940-1949 | Concentration camps | Deportation | Detention without trial | Malaysia

British in Malaya start to detain and deport entire communities

10 January 1949 On 10 January 1949, Emergency regulation 17D authorised the British High Commissioner for Malaya to use mass detentions and deportations, including even entire villages, towns or rural districts, where elements among the population were suspected of supporting the communist insurgents, who were fighting to end British rule.1  It was immediately acknowledged even…