Settle Batang Kali massacre case, Britain told by the European Court of Human rights

International court orders amicable resolution over 1948 Batang Kali killings 

KUALA LUMPUR: The British government has been ordered by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to seek an amicable settlement over the Batang Kali massacre, in which its soldiers killed 24 innocent villagers on Dec 11 and 12, 1948.

Civilians lie dead in Batang Kali, in 1948


It was also told to submit a written explanation on the merits of the massacre and state its position for a friendly settlement by Feb 7, said MCA vice-president Datuk Dr Hou Kok Chung.

The ECHR made the order recently after conducting a preliminary examination of the complaint filed by the victims’ families that London had violated Article 2 of the Euro­pean Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to life, by endorsing the massacre.

Britain has been a signatory to the European Convention since 1953, when Malaya was still its colony and its residents were considered subjects under British rule.

“The descendants of the victims have for years asked the British government for an apology, compensation and construction of a memorial, but all these have been ignored.

“So, they turned to the European Court. We hope the British government and the families can reach an out-of-court settlement,” said Hou yesterday at a press conference attended by the victims’ families and their lawyer Quek Ngee Meng.

Hou said the massacre, in which British courts had held their government responsible for the killings and ruled that the victims were not linked to communist insurgents, was “an issue too big to be ignored”.

“Though many years have passed, justice must be done and the inhumane killings must be recorded. There is a need for governments to learn from history. Let history educate people.

“During the Emergency in 1948, a lot of Chinese suffered and lived in fear,” said Hou.

The British declared emergency rule on June 18, 1948, after three estate managers were murdered in Perak by the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), an outgrowth of the anti-Japanese guerrilla movement which later turned anti-colonial.

During the 1948-60 emergency rule, Chinese were rounded up into “new villages” as they were suspected of being sympathetic to MCP.

On Dec 11, 1948, British troops entered the plantation village of Batang Kali, Selangor, and questioned the rubber tappers about the MCP but to no avail.

The next day, they loaded the women and children on a military truck and shot dead 23 men, after killing one the day before.

This massacre was claimed by the British as the “biggest success” since the emergency began, and its official parliamentary record in 1949 described the killings as “justified”.

But in 1970, the episode was given a twist when several soldiers involved in the operation told British media of their guilt over shooting innocent civilians.

In July 1993, survivors of the massacre petitioned for justice after the British Broadcasting Corporation did an independent documentary on the saga.

The survivors took their battle to the British government and later to the British courts with the help of international human rights groups.

Now their descendants are continuing the struggle for justice, this time with the help of MCA.

By Ho Wah Foon The Star/ANN

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British Massacre – Batang Kali Victims win UK court scrutiny 

Agony of British Massacre Victims’ Descendants in Batang Kali, Malaysia 

Batang Kali massacre by the British: justice for the dead! 

Batang Kali massacre: British soldiers admitted unlawful killings 

Batang Kali British Massacre Victims have a legal respite 

British Massacre – Batang Kali Survivors and kin seek inquiry and damages 


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Hong Kong students at risk of anti-China scheming by outsiders; Chinese abroad blast protests

The Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong has lasted more than three weeks. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Tuesday held talks with the Hong Kong Federation of Students. But given a lack of positivity on the part of the latter during the talks, it remains unknown when the Occupy movement will end.

The external political situation concerning Occupy Central is increasingly clear-cut. Western public opinion has given it full support. Besides, a mix of traditional forces that are confronting the current Chinese regime, including Tibetan, Xinjiang and Taiwan separatists, Falun Gong devotees, and pro-democracy activists, have beaten the drums for the Hong Kong protests like cheerleaders.

The Occupy Central activists and their adherents must wake up. They shouldn’t act as a puppet of those hostile external forces.

With the Hong Kong radical forces becoming a new member, the anti-China camp seems to be expanding. If this is the case, it will yield terrible results.

Hong Kong, the Asian financial hub and a role model for the rule of law, will be held hostage by those hostile external forces, transforming into a battlefield between them and the rising China.

We suggest the Occupy Central activists not take on such a perilous role. Being already embroiled in the political competition in the Asia-Pacific region, they may have been pushed further than they originally intended.

The young Hong Kong students who have participated in Occupy Central should know that China, which is developing rapidly, is their home country and Hong Kong is a part of China’s rise. They therefore enjoy more opportunities than their counterparts from a smaller country. Meanwhile, they have to accordingly take responsibility to safeguard China’s security as it rises.

If the Occupy Central forces keep advancing, this will attract more international anti-China forces. The longer the protests last, the harder it will be for the Occupy Central forces to back down.

Incredible role reversals have often occurred throughout history. A marginal part or even central part of a camp could be converted into the enemies of that camp. We strongly hope the Occupy Central activities won’t do so.

The West-supported external forces will continue cheering for Occupy Central. Exiles will take the Occupy movement as their chance.

Their aim is to strike a heavy blow against China and take it down, but is this the goal of the young student participants of Occupy Central? If not, they should withdraw from the protests as soon as possible.

And for a small number of hostile elements to China, the country knows how to deal with them.

– Global Times

Chinese community leaders in London blast HK protests

Leaders of the Chinese community in Britain on Monday called on protesters in Hong Kong to stop the Occupy Central movement and let things return to normal.

According to a statement issued by the London Chinatown Chinese Association, the Occupy Central movement has disrupted Hong Kong long enough and needs to be wrapped up soon.

The statement called for stability through the “one country, two systems” policy and continued successful economic development for the international financial capital.

Under Hong Kong’s basic law and its top legislature’s decisions, more than 5 million Hong Kong voters have a say in who will become the chief executive in 2017 through the “one man, one vote” electoral system, said Chu Ting Tang, chairman of the London Chinatown Chinese Association, at a forum on the Hong Kong situation in London’s Chinatown.

Residents of Hong Kong, under the “one country, two systems” rule, enjoy freedom of speech, religion, education and employment, Tang said, adding that “residents can demonstrate in the streets, criticize the government, media and members of the legislative body and monitor the government without restriction”.

Tang believes that Hong Kong residents have been enjoying prosperity from a thriving economy and that their standard of living has been improving year by year.

“Since rejoining the Chinese mainland in 1997, Hong Kong’s status as an international center for commerce and trade has been strengthened. The employment rate has also reached an all-time high,” Tang said.

Shan Sheng, president of the UK Chinese Association for the Promotion of National Reunification, noted that the Occupy Central movement has had a serious impact on the residents of Hong Kong by obstructing administrative operations.

The students among the protesters are young, some even not yet in their 20s, Shan said. Their understanding of politics is rather shallow.

Since being implemented in 1997, the policy of “one country, two systems” has been progressing smoothly in Hong Kong, Shan said, adding that real estate and the economy of Hong Kong have thrived.

The current protest movement is negatively influencing that development and the everyday livelihood of Hong Kong residents, Shan added.

Thousands of Hong Kong protesters, most of them students, joined the Occupy Central movement to express their discontent over the process set by the top legislature for electing the region’s next leader through universal suffrage.

China’s Hong Kong government on Tuesday held its first formal talks with students who have been participating in the Occupy Central movement since Sept 28.

– China Daily/Asia News Network

Related posts:

 The Bridled protest: Hong Kongers’ free will shall not be held hostage to
protestors. Pro-democracy protesters flash lights during a rally to
protest the violence seen in Mong Kok, in Hong Kong, China, 4 October


The Western media have secured their prize. Just as it seemed that the Hong Kong Occupy demonstratio[Read it]

The Bridled protest: Hong Kongers’ free will shall not be held hostage to protestors

Hongkong protest  Pro-democracy protesters flash lights during a rally to protest the violence seen in Mong Kok, in Hong Kong, China, 4 October 2014. – EPA/ALEX HOFFORD

The Bridled protest

Despite the tension in Hong Kong, both sides have exercised tremendous self-restraint, which must be unusual, if not unprecedented, when seen through Western eyes.

THERE has been plenty of restraint by both the protest movement and the authorities in Hong Kong. The threat by some student leaders to storm government buildings did not take place after the midnight deadline on Thursday.

If the international media still expect to see a serious clash between the protesters and the police, then I believe they will be disappointed.

Beijing must surely be aware that the world is watching. They would never want a repeat of the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989 where many protesters, mostly students, were reportedly killed. Until today, no one knows exactly the actual number of casualties.

The Chinese government has also not used harsh or emotive language except to say that the gathering is illegal and the crowd should disperse. The protesters are angry at China’s plan to vet election candidates for the first direct election of the chief executive in 2017.

Beijing had ruled at the end of August that while Hong Kong residents would have a vote, their choice of candidates would be restricted by a committee. The protest began on Sept 22 when student groups launched a week-long boycott of classes.

On Sept 28, Occupy Central and student protests joined forces and took over central Hong Kong in what is now dubbed as the “umbrella revolution”.

Despite the tension, both sides have exercised tremendous self-restraint, which must be unusual, if not unprecedented, when seen through Western eyes.

The protest was orderly, and quite extraordinary, based on the news reports which showed how protesters collected garbage and separated them into recycling bins and how the police held up placards warning of impending tear gas action. And there was even a poignant picture of a policeman helping a protester hit by tear gas.

There are good reasons – the people of  Hong Kong are fully aware that nothing that they demand, at least for now, will be fulfilled immediately. They are practical people but they want their voices to be heard by Beijing.

The people have also accepted the fact that Hong Kong is part of China. The British returned Hong Kong to China in 1997 and nothing is going to change that. The future of Hong Kong is in the hands of China – not the United Kingdom or the United States.

But the locals are also angry at the huge number of mainlanders crowding into tiny Hong Kong. The pressure on the housing, health and education sectors has led to great resentment.

There are plenty of video clips on YouTube posted by Hong Kong people on what they see as the crass and rude behaviour of the less-polished mainlanders, which ranges from eating in the underground train to defecating in the streets to loud chattering. These have led to scuffles between Hong Kong people and mainland tourists and these are well documented.

There has been retaliation, in the apparent clash of cultures, except for the fact that both are ethnically Chinese. One professor appeared on Chinese TV and called the people of Hong Kong names while claiming that they were paying homage to London. He also hammered the Hong Kong people for preferring to speak Cantonese instead of Mandarin.

On the other hand, advertisements have appeared in Hong Kong newspapers, referring to the mainlanders as locusts who hog the resources of Hong Kong.

As far back as January, the South China Morning Post had reported on protesters who marched along Canton Road, a luxury shopping street that is a popular destination for mainland tourists, holding up signs that read “Go Back to China” and “Reclaim Hong Kong”.

Xenophobia seems like an oxymoron because the Hong Kong residents and the mainlanders are all Chinese and belong to the same country.

Ironically, Hong Kong’s retail sector is crying at the missed business opportunities of the Oct 1 China national day. This is when mainlanders flock to Hong Kong for long holidays and, of course, to dine and shop. This time they have stayed away as a result of the protests and it is Hong Kong that is paying the price. Shops have been forced to shut because of the protests and businessmen are blaming the student leaders.

In fact, Beijing does not have to do anything against the protesters. The central government can afford to sit it out because the students will eventually have to go back to classes, the protesters need to report for work, and businesses must go on.

This is Hong Kong after all, where the cost of living is among the highest in the world. Sitting on the road will not last long when there are hefty bills to be paid.

A middle-ground solution to allow both sides to back down without losing face looked possible, but the plan for the students to talk with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam appears to have been scuttled by the clashes in Mongkok.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said he would not negotiate with the student leaders, nor would he resign.

Now, the students have called off the talks with Lam, claiming that the police had allowed “triad” gangsters to infiltrate their protest camps.

But the talks will have to eventually be held because it is the right thing to do. Any dialogue between them will reflect the genuine desire of both sides to end the impasse. It will also show that Beijing is prepared to hear and respect the voices of the young people in Hong Kong, which is an autonomous territory.

This is an opportunity for the students to put on record that they accept Beijing. The reality is that their anti-communist China slogans, which may be morale-boosting during their protests, won’t change a thing. It is better that these students be practical instead of being too idealistic.

Business Hong Kong will not allow students to lead at the expense of Hong Kong and China, it is as simple as that. The clashes between the students and the traders in Mongkok on Friday are a sign that patience is wearing thin for those who need to earn a living.

Interestingly enough, most of the student leaders in the Tiananmen protest are now growing old in exile in the US, UK and France. Unable to return home, they could never have imagined how Beijing has embraced capitalism and the speed of economic progress as China’s middle class expands.

As academics Chen Dingding and Wang Jianwei of the University of Macau correctly pointed out in an article, “The English word ‘crisis’ in Chinese actually consists of two words: danger and opportunity. A crisis itself is not necessarily a bad thing – it also presents an opportunity to solve the problem.”

I agree. In the case of Hong Kong, it is better that Beijing let Hong Kong grow at its own pace and in its own way. And the people of Hong Kong can protest, but they should not go overboard.

Source: On the beat Wong Chun Wai The Star/Asia News Network

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.
Hong Kongers’ free will shall not be held hostage to protestors

Hongkong protest_Beijing Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability are hard-won and should be treasured, while Hong Kongers’ free will shall not be held …

BEIJING, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) — Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability are hard-won and should be treasured, while Hong Kongers’ free will shall not be held hostage to those organizers of the Occupy Central movement who have ulterior motives, critics appealed.

Yin Haoliu, a Chinese American freelancer, wrote in an open letter to three initiators of the illegal movement: “Democracy is a step-by-step process that can not be approached in haste, otherwise it will bring about troubles.”

“What’s wrong with the Communist Party of China which hopes to see a person who loves China and loves Hong Kong elected as Hong Kong’s chief executive? Are you willing to choose a chief executive that sells Hong Kong and the whole country?” Yin asked in the letter.

“You should know that on your opposite side are the silent majority… if Hong Kong falls into chaos, you could flee to foreign countries, but how about the ordinary Hong Kongers that are left behind?” he said.

“Christopher Francis Patten said the decision by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Aug. 31 that granted universal suffrage in Hong Kong was false…then was he himself as the governor of Hong Kong elected by the Hong Kong people?” the retired doctor said.

Yin said Hong Kong had tided through numerous difficulties with full support of the Chinese mainland since the Basic Law was put into practice, so the initiators of Occupy Central should treasure the city’s current prosperity and stability.

On Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow hopes that stability will resume as soon as possible in Hong Kong.

“Events in Hong Kong belong to China’s internal affairs. Russia hopes the stability of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) would be resumed as soon as possible,” the ministry’s information and press department told Xinhua.

Singapore’s Foreign Minister Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam said in an interview with Lianhe Zaobao that many reports on Hong Kong made by the Western media were untrue and biased to China.

They intentionally ignored a fact that Hong Kong had never implemented a democratic system under the British rule for some 150 years, he said, adding that Beijing’s plan has granted Hong Kong much more democratic space than what Hong Kongers got in the times of British-ruled Hong Kong.

“Everyone shall be clear about one point, that is, what the central government did conforms with Hong Kong’s Basic Law,” the foreign minister said.

He said Hong Kong is deeply dependent on the Mainland, including employment and livelihood.

Even though a little anti-Mainland sentiment appeared in Hong Kong, the central government is still generous to Hong Kong, he added.

Jeff Bader, who ran Obama’s first term White House East Asia policy, told the Washington Post that for Beijing, there is no room for compromise on issues such as Chinese stability and the leadership of the Communist Party of China.

He also mentioned that millions of Hong Kongers will not support or tolerate the protest that grinds the city to halt for days.

The negative impact of Occupy Central includes a bit of a brain drain, Bader predicted.

Hong Kong has been partially paralysed by the large-scale protests that started on Sept. 28.

A large number of Occupy protesters have taken over major streets in Mong Kok, one of the city’s most bustling areas, for at least four days, which has seriously affected businesses of local shops, restaurants and vendors, and forced schools and banks to be closed.

Friday afternoon, some anti-Occupy people clashed with Occupy protesters in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, Hong Kong’s two major commercial areas. Several people were injured during the clashes.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying gave an urgent TV broadcast Friday evening, calling on all citizens, no matter what attitude they may have toward the Occupy movement, to keep calm and not to use violence or disrupt public order under any circumstances.


Hong Kong protests: Western media reports biased against …

There has been much anti-China bias in Western media’s reporting on Hong Kong’s situation, said Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam, as he …

Hong Kong CE calls for peace after clashes

HONG KONG, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) — Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying gave an urgent TV broadcast on Friday evening calling for peace after Occupy protesters clashed with anti-Occupy people in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, Hong Kong’s two major commercial areas.

Leung called on all citizens, no matter what attitude they have toward the Occupy, they have to keep calm, and not use violence or disrupt order under any situation. Full story

Chinese public voice opposition againt HK Occupy Central

BEIJING, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) — Chinese people from all walks of life have voiced their strong denouncement and opposition against the illegal gatherings of the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong over these days.

The Occupy Central movement has seriously affected the social order in Hong Kong and runs counter to the rule of law, said Beijing citizen Zhao Qing. Full story.

Firmly safeguard rule of law in HK: People’s Daily

BEIJING, Oct. 3 — Democracy and the rule of law are interdependent, and a democracy without the rul[Read it]

Chin Peng’s remains couldn’t be interred in his Sitiawan hometown to be cremated in Bangkok instead

Bangkok Wat That ThongThe Wat That Thong temple where Chin Peng will be cremated in Bangkok.

PETALING JAYA: The late Chin Peng will be cremated according to Buddhist rites at Bangkok’s Wat That Thong temple next week.

Paul Chin, an aide of the former secretary-general of the outlawed Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), said the body would be brought to the temple for a wake on Friday and the final rites conducted on Monday morning. The cremation will follow in the evening.

The communist leader died at a hospital in Bangkok on Monday morning. He was 89.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Chin Peng’s remains would not be allowed back into the country.

Paul Chin said Chin Peng’s one-time right-hand man Abdullah CD is expected to be among former party members and leaders who will attend the funeral.

Meanwhile, Opposition leaders continued to appeal to the Govern­ment to allow Chin Peng’s remains to be brought back to his hometown in Sitiawan, Perak.

PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said: “Let bygones be bygones.

“It is clear the rakyat generally rejects the communist ideology. However, the late Chin Peng chose the path of peace in the end after failing to reach an agreement at the Baling Talks in 1955.”

He added that the CPM chief entered a peace treaty with the Government in 1989.

DAP national chairman Karpal Singh said the Government should honour the 1989 Haadyai Accord, which was one of the treaties signed by Malaysia with the CPM and Thai authorities.

Seputeh MP Teresa Kok called on the Government to reconsider its decision.

PAS central committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said Chin Peng’s ashes should be allowed to be brought back into the country in the name of justice.

“I recall they (CPM) agreed to lay down their weapons and, as far as I am concerned, that is a ceasefire.”

– The Star/Asia News Network

Sitiawan folk whisper about Chin Peng’s death

CAPTION: ONG BOON HUA OR BETTER KNOWN AS CHIN PENG WAS THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF MALAYA SECRETARY GENERALSITIAWAN: Folk in Chin Peng’s (pic) hometown only whisper about the passing of this divisive figure, and dare not make their opinions known publicly.

A number of people declined to talk when The Star approached them for their thoughts on the late Communist Party of Malaya secretary-general, though the general feeling is that the people in this town felt that the body of Chin Peng, or Ong Boon Hua, 89, should be interred here.

“This is where he was born, grew up and studied,” said a 52-year-old salesman, who wished to remain anonymous.

“For what he has done, it was done because he loved the country.”
The salesman said the bloodshed that occurred during the Emergency era was unavoidable, and it was unfortunate that murders were part and parcel of strife.

“The people are scared to talk about the return of Chin Peng’s body, but they felt that the Government should honour the agreement that was signed in Haadyai then,” said the salesman, who added that it was fact that Chin Peng was born here.

“His younger brother’s grave is here, along with that of his parents and grandfather. He also studied and grew up here.”

At the Kong Hock Kong Lumut Pundut burial ground where Chin Peng’s family members were buried, its caretaker, known as Tay, said Chin Peng’s brother and relatives would come and pay their respects every Qing Ming (All Souls Day).

“I’ve seen them a couple of times, but never talked to them,” said the 40-year-old Tay.

Opposite the shophouse along Jalan Raja Omar, where Chin Peng grew up, a coffeeshop owner, known as Foo, 69, said Chin Peng’s family often came to his shop for drinks whenever they came to pay their respects.

“Even back in the 40s, his late parents would also come here for coffee.

“But I don’t remember seeing Chin Peng,” he said, adding that he was a young child then.

He added that Chin Peng’s family sold bicycles at the shophouse.

According to Foo, Chin Peng was a former student of SMJK Nan Hwa here.

“His name is inscribed in a special school magazine dated 1948,” said Foo.

Meanwhile, Perak police chief Senior Deputy Comm Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani said police were monitoring the situation closely to prevent any untoward incidents.

– Contributed by IVAN LOH The Star/Asia News Network

Related post:
Chin Peng, a hero or zero?

Tracing the origins of the formation of Malaysia Sept 16

Malaysia's originsHistoric moment:Sabah’s first Governor Tun Mustapha Datu Harun taking his oath of office on Sept 16, 1963

The idea of Malaysia came to fruition in 1963 as a culmination of the combined forces of decolonisation and expanding South-East Asian nationalisms.

THE famous announcement on May 27, 1961 by Tunku Abdul Rahman, then the Prime Minister of the Federation of Malaya, calling for forging closer political and economic cooperation between Malaya, Singapore, North Borneo, Brunei and Sarawak, is generally taken as the starting point for the formation of Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963. The roots of the Malaysia scheme, however, go further back in time and were embedded in British plans hatched in 1942 for the decolonisation of South-East Asia in the post-Second World War period.

In fact, such an idea was first suggested in 1893 by Lord Brassey, director of the British North Borneo Company, who proposed the amalgamation of all British possessions in South-East Asia into “one large colony”. Brassey’s proposal, however, did not find favour with the British Government.

The outbreak of the Second World War and the subsequent capture of all British colonial possessions in South-East Asia by the Japanese changed everything. The British felt humiliated and partly laid the blame for their defeat on the disunited nature of their territorial possessions in South-East Asia which made it difficult to organise a coordinated defence.

In 1942, the Colonial Office led by its Eastern Department headed by G. Edward Gent began to lay plans for a more coordinated post-war policy in South-East Asia. This policy was founded on two principles: preparing dependent territories for the goal of self-rule, and integrating smaller units into larger political blocs.

The justification given for the second objective was administrative efficiency, economic development, political stability and defence viability. Anchoring their policy on these two principles, the Colonial Office laid plans for a “Grand Design” in South-East Asia after the Second World War. This called for the creation of a “union”, a “federation”; a “confederation” or a “dominion” of all British territories in the Malayan-Borneo region.

This large union or federation was to include the Malay states, Straits Settlements, North Borneo, Sarawak and Brunei. This “Grand Design”, which may be appropriately named the “Colonial Malaysia Scheme”, was to be achieved gradually and in stages beginning with political integration in two separate blocs, that is, between Malaya and Singapore on the one hand, and between the Borneo territories on the other.

Confirming this line of action, J. D. Higham of the Colonial Office minuted on Jan 20, 1953 as follows: “Our original idea was that Malaya and Singapore would form one bloc and Sarawak, North Borneo and Brunei, another, and that the two blocs might then merge into some sort of confederation.”

From 1946 to 1949, and even later, the British Government wished to push ahead with the process of integration within the two blocs, but political, strategic and economic exigencies and contingencies on the ground, such as the importance of maintaining Singapore as a naval base, the desire to push the Malayan Union proposals in Malaya, managing the Anti-Cession movement in Sarawak, and the wide gap in the political, economic and social development between the Malayan and Borneo territories, hindered all attempts to bring about any union within these blocs.

Seeing that integration in two separate blocs was not working, the British Government revived the “Grand Design” or the “Colonial Malaysia Scheme” idea in 1949.

Towards this end, the British Government created the post of the British Commissioner-General for South-East Asia to act as a coordinating body in the region. The man chosen for the job was Malcolm MacDonald.

Although he tried very hard, MacDonald achieved little success from 1949 to 1951, however. In 1951, he began to introduce new innovations, the most important being the setting up of branches of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) in the British territories in the Malayan-Borneo region.

By this move, MacDonald was able to foster much regional solidarity and goodwill among the local leaders through the mechanism of CPA meetings. In light of strong support especially from non-officials for a wider regional integration, MacDonald began to push vigorously for the realisation of the “Grand Design” or a British Dominion of South-East Asia in 1952.

Independence and expansion 

But the Commissioner-General’s exuberance was short-lived. By the early months of 1953, support for the Grand Design or Colonial Malaysia began to dissipate mainly as a result of uncompromising attitudes of British colonial officials in Malaya and Singapore. Ongoing animosity between top British administrators of these two states forced the Colonial Office to abandon the idea of forming an overall British Dominion of South-East Asia in favour of the pre-1951 formula of encouraging the formation of separate political blocs.

While the Colonial Office concentrated its efforts in improving relations between Malaya and Singapore, a strong initiative commenced in the Borneo region in 1953 to promote greater administrative coordination between North Borneo, Sarawak and Brunei with a view of their “ultimate federation”.

Political developments in Malaya also began to take fundamental decision-making out of the hands of the colonial masters. The formation of the Alliance Party comprising Umno, MCA and MIC in 1954 and its resounding victory in the 1955 elections to the Federal Council effectively placed Malayan leaders in charge of their destiny.

Under the dynamic leadership of Tunku, Umno and the Alliance, Malaya thus began to move towards independence at a pace far ahead of the British “time-table”. In this context, the views of Tunku and Umno concerning the Malaya-Singapore merger and the wider Colonial Malaysia Scheme became decisive.

Although there grew a strong body of opinion in Singapore in 1954 and 1955 advocating merger with the Federation of Malaya, Tunku and Umno strongly opposed such a union. They feared being outnumbered by the addition of over a million Chinese; that the Malays would lose political dominance; and that Malaya’s security would be seriously threatened. The British, taking stock of the situation, could not countenance merger in the face of Umno’s rejection.

As far as the Colonial Malaysia Scheme was concerned, Tunku in fact lent support to the idea in 1955 and 1956, but the format was to be “Greater Malaya”, which was to be established in the future after Singapore, Sarawak, Brunei and North Borneo had achieved independence.

In 1956, Tunku was more concerned in winning independence for Malaya in a hurry and did not want any scheme of merger or territorial expansion to derail this supreme objective.

“At this stage,” he declared in 1956, “it is wise to be prudent like Kamal Ataturk who resolutely opposed territorial expansion in favour of improving Turkey itself first. Thus, when Malaya achieved independence in 1957 ahead of the colonial “time-table” and ahead of Singapore, the British Grand Design was rendered untenable and therefore remained unfulfilled.

But the idea of Malaysia remained alive both in the minds of the British and Tunku, and finally came to fruition in 1963 as a culmination of the combined forces of decolonisation and expanding South-East Asian nationalisms.

Tunku’s Malaysia
After achieving independence for Malaya in 1957, Tunku Abdul Rahman again broached the subject of forming Malaysia on May 27, 1961. His motivation were, however, slightly different than those of the British. One was to help complete the unfinished British Grand Design of decolonisation, which had been derailed as a result of Malaya’s unexpected independence. When this Grand Design had to be aborted in 1957, Britain began to face an intractable dilemma of finding a workable solution for decolonising the rest of her colonial possessions in the region.

The British found it unfeasible to grant independence separately to Singapore, North Borneo, Sarawak and Brunei as they were too small or too weak politically, economically and in security terms to survive alone. They were also extremely vulnerable to the forces of expanding communism, a situation the British colonial masters wished to avoid for the preservation of their own interests in the region.

In Borneo, the British tried to find a workable solution by fostering the formation of a North Borneo Federation from 1957 to 1960. This attempt failed miserably due to the opposition of the Sultan of Brunei, the rise of Party Rakyat Brunei which wanted to establish Negara Kalimantan Utara linked to Indonesia, and the rising tide of communism in Sarawak spearheaded by the Sarawak Communist Clandestine Organisation.

The Singapore problem became even more alarming with the stark possibility of a communist takeover of the government in 1961.

In these dire circumstances, the British began to look to Malaya and Tunku Abdul Rahman, who was quite ready to do the job for them but had another motive as well for the creation of Malaysia. This second orientation was the desire for territorial expansion, an impulse very much consistent with the phenomenon of expanding nationalisms at the time especially in insular South-East Asia.

Paradoxically, the rise of nationalism in the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei and the Federation of Malaya also produced a desire among the leaders of these countries for territorial expansion in the region for various reasons.

In the Philippines, the main architect of this nationalist expansion was Diosdado Macapagal who, since the country’s independence in 1946, began to advocate the extension of Philippine jurisdiction on all former Spanish possessions including the Turtle Islands and North Borneo.

Sukarno in Indonesia, wanting to resurrect the Majapahit Empire, laid claim to all former Dutch colonies in the region, including West New Guinea (West Irian) which was not handed over by the Dutch to the Indonesian Republic in 1949. Indonesia also had designs over British Borneo, over which it was casting “covetous eyes” as early as 1953.

Tunku’s Malaysia Scheme also smacked of expansionist aims. He basically wanted North Borneo, Sarawak and Brunei as part of Greater Malaya and was willing to bring in Singapore only if the British Borneo territories were brought in first. In Brunei, Party Rakyat Brunei led by A. M. Azahari was seriously advocating the revival of the former Brunei Empire in the form of Negara Kalimantan Utara from 1956 to 1962.

These expanding nationalisms overlapped in the territorial milieu and produced a period of intense conflict. The concepts of Greater Malaya, Greater Brunei, Greater Indonesia and Greater Philippines were totally irreconcilable and were bound to produce political turmoil in the region.

There was in fact also strong opposition initially from the peoples of British Borneo against Tunku’s Greater Malaya. A great deal of diplomacy and safeguards were necessary to gain their support, and even then Brunei stayed out.

Sabah and Sarawak indeed claim they did not join Malaysia, but formed Malaysia as equal partners with Malaya and Singapore.

Contributed by By Prof Dr D.S. Ranjit Singh
> The writer is Visiting Professor at the College of Law, Government and International Studies, Universiti Utara Malaysia ( 

Stop paying quit rent to Sultan of Sulu, it’s time to close the chapter

Malaysian troops_lops-daulat
Safeguarding our territory: Malaysian troops moving into Tanduo village during an operation to flush out the armed intruders. — (Handout photo by Defence Ministry)

A major shift in Malaysia’s position on the Philippine claim to Sabah is needed. 
THE Philippines Government officially announced their claim to North Borneo (now Sabah) on June 22, 1962. Despite numerous attempts to settle the issue, it still festers on, exemplified by the latest tragic events unfolding on the east coast of Sabah.

The Philippine claim is based on two documents dated Jan 22, 1878. By the first document, Sultan Muhammad Jamaluladzam granted (pajak) all his territorial possessions in Borneo (tanah besar Pulau Berunai) to Gustavus Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent Esquire as representatives of a British Company for a yearly payment/ quit rent (hasil pajakan) of five thousand dollars (Spanish dollars).

By the second document, the said Sultan appointed Overbeck as “Dato’ Bendahara and Rajah of Sandakan” with the fullest powers of a “supreme ruler” (penghulu pemerintah atas kerajaan yang tersebut itu).

Descendants of Sultan Muhammad Jamaluladzam (the number cannot be ascertained, but is large), represented by the Kiram Corporation and the Philippine Government, have always claimed that this 1878 grant was a lease (pajakan) and not a cession as claimed by Malaysia. The continuous annual payment of the quit rent or cession monies of five thousand dollars (now RM5,300) to these descendants is cited as further proof of this contention. Based on these grounds, they claim, Sabah belongs to the Philippines/ the Sultan of Sulu’s descendants.

Before discussing how Malaysia has been responding to this assertion and how it should alter its position drastically, a little bit of historical narrative is in order.

Without going too far back in time, it is suffice to say historical documents confirm that both the Sultanate of Brunei and the Sultanate of Sulu exercised political control over parts of present-day Sabah (there was no State or Negeri Sabah at that time) in the late 19th century. Brunei had defacto jurisdiction on the west coast from Kimanis to Pandasan, while Sulu ruled the east coast from Marudu to the Sibuku River. The interior was largely independent under local indigenous suku chiefs.

Both Sultanates, however, claimed dejure jurisdiction from the Pandasan on the west coast to the Sibuku River on the east. Both Sultanates were also in a state of decline. Brunei was suffering from internal decay while large parts of its territories were being swallowed up by the new state of Sarawak under the Brookes.

In the Philippine region, the Spanish authorities in Manila had been trying to subjugate the independent and powerful kingdom of Sulu for three centuries without success. In 1871, the Spaniards launched another exerted campaign to conquer the stubborn kingdom.

It was in this kind of environment that a number of European and American speculators became interested in obtaining territorial concessions from the two weak Sultanates for speculative purposes. Among them were Lee Moses and Joseph Torrey of America; and Baron von Overbeck and Alfred Dent who had formed a company called the Overbeck-Dent Association on March 27, 1877 in London for the purpose of obtaining land concessions in Sabah and selling them for a profit.

Overbeck and Dent acquired Brunei’s jurisdiction over its Sabah possessions in five documents dated Dec 29, 1877 from the Sultan of Brunei and his ministers. After this, Overbeck sailed to Jolo where he also obtained the rights of the Sultan of Sulu in Sabah through two agreements concluded on Jan 22, 1878.

Why was Sultan Muhammad Jamaluladzan prepared to lease/ grant/ pajak his territories in Sabah to Overbeck and Dent? Sulu was on the brink of capitulating to the Spaniards and as such Sultan Muhammad was hopeful of obtaining some assistance from the Overbeck-Dent Association and possibly even from Britain. Placed in such dire straits, he was therefore not adverse to giving Overbeck and Dent territorial concessions in Sabah with some hope of salvation.

In the event, no such aid came either from the Overbeck-Dent Association or the British Government. Six months after the Overbeck-Dent grants were concluded, Sulu was conquered by the Spanish authorities on July 2 1878. With the fall of Sulu, the said Sultanate ceased to be an independent entity as it was incorporated as part of the Spanish colonial administration of the Philippines.

In 1898, Spain lost the Philippines to the United States by the Peace of Paris (Dec 10, 1898), which ended the Spanish-American War. The US ruled the Philippines till 1946 when independence was granted.

The sultanate ended when Sultan Jamalul Kiram II signed the Carpenter Agreement on March 22, 1915, in which he ceded all political power to the United States.

Sultan of Sulu_carpendter Agreement
Carpenter, Governor of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu, Philippine Islands,  from 1913-1920, with the Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram II.

Meanwhile, in 1936, the US colonial administration of the Philippines abolished the Sulu Sultanate upon the death of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II (1894-1936) in the same year in an attempt to create a unitary State of the Philippines. Jamalul Kiram III is a self- appointed “Sultan” with a dubious legal status.

Now, coming back to the question of Malaysia’s ongoing treatment of the claim, and why and how it should completely alter this position. Since the official announcement of the claim by the Philippine Government on June 22, 1962, Malaysia has been pursuing an ambivalent policy. On the one hand, it has persistently rejected the Philippines claim, but on the other it has compromised Malaysia’s sovereignty by agreeing to settle the “dispute” by peaceful means (such as the Manila Agreement, Aug 3, 1963) and a number of other mutual agreements between the two countries.

Most damaging of all is Malaysia’s willingness to honour the clause in the 1878 Sulu grant pertaining to the payment of the annual quit rent or cession monies as Malaysia says, of RM5,300, to the descendants of the former Sulu Sultanate. To this day, Malaysia is still paying this quit rent, lending credence to the claimants’ argument that the 1878 grant was a lease and not a cession and therefore it still belongs to them.

If Malaysia continues to follow this policy, there will be no end to this problem except to buy out the rights of the descendents of the Sultan of Sulu. But this course is fraught with danger as it will lead to further legal complications with the Philippines and even endless litigation with the descendants.

My proposal is that Malaysia should go by the laws of “effectivities”, as in the case of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) judgement pertaining to the issue of sovereignty over the Sipadan and Ligitan islands, and the law of acts of a’titre de souverain as in the case of Pulau Batu Puteh. No title, however strong, is valid once the original owner fails to exercise acts consistent with the position of a’titre de souverain. The opposite is true, that is, the holder of the lease may not have original title but he ultimately gains permanent possession of the lease by virtue of continuous state “effectivities”.

In this case, the Sultan of Sulu and its successors including the Philippine government have failed to conduct any acts of a’titre de souverain since 1882, and so they have legally lost their title.

On the other hand, the successors of the Overbeck-Dent Association, that is the British North Borneo Company (1882-1946); the British Colonial Administration (1946-1963); and Malaysia, (from 1963) have been exercising continuous acts of a’titre de souverain for a period of 131 years.

Since we have all this evidence on our side, Malaysia should now take a new stand by totally rejecting the validity of the 1878 grants on the grounds of “effectivitie” and a’titre de souverain. It should also immediately stop paying the so-called annual quit rent or cession monies. This payment has always brought huge embarrassment to Malaysia and has in fact compromised its sovereignty.

We should also never agree to go to the International Court of Justice not because our case is weak (it is very strong), but because we don’t want to trade the fate of sovereign territories and people through the judgment of any court, even the ICJ.

There’s one more point that should be pondered upon. No country or state or nation which has obtained independence has ever paid ownership monies to its former masters. The 13 Colonies of America did not do so, India did not do so, the Federation of Malaya did not do so.

Sabah became an independent state on Aug 31, 1963 and decided to form the Federation of Malaysia with three other partners on Sept 16, 1963. It is strange indeed, if not preposterous, that a sovereign state is paying ownership or cession monies to certain people based on a colonial, pre-independence treaty that is 131 years old!


Emeritus Prof D. S. Ranjit Singh is Visiting Professor at the College of Law, Government and International Studies, Universiti Utara Malaysia ( 

Related posts:

The former Sulu Sultanate, a foreign problem in history that became Sabah’s  

The Sultan of Sulu reclaims eastern Sabah, MNLF among invaders

Sultan of Sulu_carpendter Agreement
Carpenter, Governor of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu, Philippine Islands,  from 1913-1920, with the Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram II.

THE Sultanate of Sulu was a traditional Islamic monarchy of the Tausug people that covered the Philippine provinces of Basilan, Palawan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the eastern part of Sabah.

It was founded in 1457 by religious scholar and explorer Sharif Abu Bakar, who assumed the title Sultan Shariful Hashim after his marriage to Paramisuli, a local princess.

He promulgated the first Sulu Code of Laws (Diwan) that were based on the Quran, and introduced an Islamic political institution and the consolidation of Islam as a state religion.

In 1675, the throne of what is now Brunei was disputed and the Sultan of Sulu was asked to settle the conflict, after which he was rewarded with North Borneo (now eastern Sabah).

In 1878, the Sulu Sultan leased North Borneo to the Europeans. The agreement stated that the lease was of their own free will and was valid until the end of time.

The sultanate received an annual cession payment that was equivalent to 5,000 Malayan dollars, which was increased to 5,300 Malayan dollars in 1903.

North Borneo was a British protectorate from the late 19th century until it became a crown colony.

It gained a brief period of independence before becoming part of Malaysia in 1963. From then, Malaysia paid RM5,300 as cession payment each year to the sultanate.

The former Sultan’s descendants did not retake the territory, instead, agreeing to accept the cession payment under the previous arra­ngement. This lasted until a few weeks ago.

The Sulu sultanate was also under the control of Spain, but the Spaniards in 1885 signed the Madrid Protocol with Britain and Germany, relinquishing any claim to North Borneo.

The sultanate ended when Sultan Jamalul Kiram II signed the Carpenter Agreement on March 22, 1915, in which he ceded all political power to the United States.

The Philippines, however, continued to recognise the sultanate as a sovereign entity until the demise of Sultan Mohd Mahakuttah A. Kiram in 1986.

There are now at least 11 claimants to the title Sultan of Sulu, including Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.

MNLF elements among invaders

PETALING JAYA: The Sulu invaders are not officially recognised by any group other than the self-styled Sulu Sultanate and its supporters, said Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia Professor Dr Aruna Gopinath.

“This is just a name this group has decided to create and call themselves by so that they can come and attack us.

“The bigger threat is if other militants join this group under the banner of the south Philippines and try to attack us as well,” said Aruna, an expert on Philippine history, politics and security.

Some of the Sulu fighters were possibly trained by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by Nur Misuari before they broke away from the group.

She explained that many of the armed militants in southern Philippines used to be members of the MNLF, from which many breakaway groups later emerged with most of them belonging to the Suluk or Tausug ethnic group, which the MNLF once represented.

“Some among the so-called Sulu army could have had combat experience during their previous stint in the MNLF before they broke away. They do have some degree of skill and are not mere marauders as there appears to be some quite capable people on the ground,” said Aruna.

She said that when Misuari became MNLF head he clamoured for secession but the Philippine Government insisted on autonomy as the only option.

While Misuari accepted, another leader Hashim Selamat did not and broke away with his supporters to form the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

When the MILF later realised that secession was not the answer it agreed to negotiate for greater autonomy with the Philippines, a process Malaysia is helping to broker.

The MILF, said Aruna, is currently the biggest armed group in the southern Philippines with a standing army of more than 200,000.

She said the MNLF no longer has a large army because apart from the MILF breakaway, other splinter groups also emerged later including the Abu Sayyaf and the Rajah Sulayman militant group.

Aruna said many youths in the troubled region join armed groups due to endemic poverty.

“Parts of the south do not even have piped water and proper roads and the MNLF and MILF soldiers I’ve interviewed said they basically joined because they were hungry, so poverty is a driving factor.”

Universiti Utara Malaysia Emeritus Professor Dr Ranjit Singh said that aside from the sultan’s supporters, some among the Sulu terrorists could also be followers of the many local warlords in the region.

“However, since there is no Sultanate of Sulu at present, and with so many claimants to the throne, an officially recognised army does not exist,” he said.

Sources: The Star/Asian News Network

Related posts:
The former Sulu Sultanate, a foreign problem in history that became Sabah’s  

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