Thursday, January 3, 2013

Gurney Threatened to Resign Over Ganapathy's Execution



A reply telegram was sent to the Secretary of State for Colonies from Gurney on the 4th May 1949 at 0730 hrs. 
The contents of the telegram No. 517 as follows:
1.   Telegram No.503 and 506 was received at 04.15hrs (Malaya time) on 4th May 1949 and the request of the Prime Minister was given “most careful consideration” by Gurney.

2.   Gurney has no power to exercise right of advice through British adviser in Ganapathy case. Under constitution in Malay States no residual prerogative in His Majesty. 

3.    It appeared to Gurney that if to bring Prime Minister’s wishes to the notice of the Sultan, the Sultan would either unwilling to comply with them or ask for advice.  In case of seeking advice, Gurney will have to inform that he has no constitutional power to advise the Sultan. Gurney could see no distinction between Ganapathy case and many other cases in which death sentence has been carried out

4.   Gurney also expressed that if he had any constitutional position in Ganapathy’s case, he would have pressed for application of consistent organized policy of leaving decision to the authorities on the spot that allows law to take its course, since any representations made subsequently to a reprieve could not either alter the facts of the case as accepted by judge and assessors, unanimously by Court of Appeal and unanimously by state Executive Council. Gurney could not satisfy his conscience that there was remotes possibility that any formal submission by the Government of Indian could alter the position of Ganapathy. Gurney remarked as “..as the matter of conscience I could not advise grant of a reprieve. I do not think it right to communicate Prime Minister’s wishes to the Sultan.”

5.   Gurney also offered to resign for his position as he felt that he was unable to comply with Atlee’s order.

6.   Precaution on the telegram may “become public property” as it was sent in clear (no coding) and been seen by Indian Post Office clerks.     

7.   Execution of Ganapathy has been carried out this morning.

My comments:

1. Having read the sentence in subject 4 ..”as the matter of conscience I could not advise grant of a reprieve. I do not think it right to communicate Prime Minister’s wishes to the Sultan.”, very obvious that Gurney made his decision to hang Ganapathy, rather than meeting Sultan to grant reprieve.

2. At subject 3, Sultan may have complied with the request to grant pardon. Therefore Ganapathy could be saved. This will not be good news for British capitalist!

3. Subject 4, Gurney criticizing the intervention of Government of India in Ganapathy case as he felt that Malayan should be governs within its rules and regulation set by British administrators.

4. Decision to proceed with the execution was made with a lame excuse that Gurney did not had the constitutional power to advise the Sultan, but rather by Gurney’s own conscience.

5. Why Gurney was concern that the telegram was sent “in clear” as there are possibilities the news are made public by his Indian post Office clerks? Was there any foul play?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Telegram from Secretary of States of Colonies Affirming Gurney's Decision: Not to Refer Ganapathy's Case to Sultan




This telegram was sent to High Commissioner of Malaya Sir Henry Gurney on the same day Ganapathy was executed – 4th May 1949. It was sent at 1715hrs (Britain Time) by Lord Listowel

The telegram reads as

1. Lord Listowel has spoken to Prime Minister Clement Atlee on S. A Ganapathy execution which took place at the dawn of 4th May 1949, as the Prime Minister may not fully aware of the “constitutional implications relating to the exercise of prerogative in Malaya”. Atlee seems to be “fully appreciates" that the matter of Ganapathy execution was made in the context of “local decision in any territory in the Federation and in Malay States."

2. Atlee also fully appreciates the consideration by which Gurney was actuated when Gurney said that (constitutional consideration apart) and Gurney personally would not able to advise the Sultan to grant a reprieve.

3. Atlee has assured Gurney that he has full confidence in Gurney’s judgment in the case of Ganapathy and trust that Gurney will prepare to withdraw his ultimatum.

4. Finally Listowel deeply regretted for sending the telegram through "in clear" (not coded) as to consider that telegram to reach Gurney before the execution.

Having to look at the telegram, Listowel seemed to have convinced Atlee and justify the execution of Ganapathy. The constitutional rights of Sultan of Selangor to grant reprieve in Ganapathy’s case has been the main key to justify British decision to hang Ganapathy.

The questions that are going on in my mind now: Why the telegram No.506 was sent at 2015hrs (GMT) knowing all the fact that it was 0415hrs in Malaya and Ganapathy was scheduled to be hang at that dawn?

Was the efforts to stop the execution was done deliberately at that hour, giving no time for Gurney to stop the execution? (Of course Gurney could have just called up the prison to stop the execution, provided he would have received the telegram before the execution)

Now, this lead to something else, did Gurney actually received the telegram before the execution of Ganapathy or after the execution?

And finally, why Gurney was so afraid that the news/contents of the telegram to be "leaked out" through an Indian clerk in his administration? If the Brits were assured that the execution of Ganapathy was done based on the law and order; why the contents of the letter become too important that it would be disastrous if contents to be leaked out to public?

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