Friday, October 26, 2012

Telegram to Indian High Commissioner to Britain Defending Gurney's Decision

On the day President of Pan Malayan Federation of Trade Union, Ganapathy 32, was hanged in Pudu Kuala Lumpur (4th May 1949), Lord Listowel - Secretary of State for India and Burma (April 1947 - Jan 1948) and also continued to serve under Attlee as Minister of State for Colonial Affairs from 1948 to 1950, wrote to VK Krishna Menon - Indian High Commissioner for Britain explaining and defending the decision taken by Sir Henry Gurney as  right and just. 


The telegram content:

4th May, 1949


As I indicated in my letter yesterday I informed the High Commissioner for the Federation of Malaya by a most immediate telegram that your government had requested a stay of execution pending a submission of further representation on Ganapathy case. I explained in my letter of the 21st April that the question of the exercise of the prerogative mercy or of respiting a sentence is one entirely for the Ruler of a Malay Sate in respect of the offence committed in the State. The decision of the Sultan of Selangor, supported by the unanimous vote of his State Executive Council, was reached in full knowledge of the views of the Government of India and the High Commissioner has informed me that he did not consider that there was the remotest possibility that any formal representation by the Government of India could alter the position. Further, the facts of the case, as accepted by the Jugde of first instance and his two Assessors and by the unanimous votes of the Court of Appeal gave High Commissioner no ground on which he could have advised the Sultan to intervene at the last hour to suspend sentence, even if such advise could constitutionally have been offered. The High Commissioner, therefore, after the most earnest consideration, did not feel able to take any further action in this matter. As you will be aware the sentence was carried out this morning.

(sgd.) Listowel


V.K. Krishna Menon, Esq

 
India through her Indian High Commissioner to Britain had played her part until the 11th hour pressuring Ganapathy's case to be revisited with an Indian representation. But Malayan High Commission again and again stated that one of the two assessors in Ganapathy case was an Indian and India should not interfere with the British administration in Malaya. 
Lord Listowel with Gandhi

From the telegram, we knew that the decision to grant reprieve in Ganapathy case, was not referred to the Sultan of Selangor by Gurney. Gurney made up his mind not to approach the Sultan even though the order for respiting the sentence was from British PM Clement Atlee. 

Krishna Menon Speaking in UN - Photo: The Hindu Library
 The question is why Gurney was so determined to "put off" Ganapathy for good? Why Ganapathy was seen as a big threat to the British administration in Malaya?  


 

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