Thursday, February 5, 2015

Four Labourers Dead at Brooklands Estate - Singapore Free Press 17th May 1941

It was a clever articulation by the British when reporting on the situation of Klang Strike in 1941. There is nowhere mentioned that Indian troops (which were stationed in Malaya to counter any possible attacks by Japanese Army) were used to subdue the labour uprise (detail of Indians troops used was given by H.E Wilson in Klang Strikes 1941 - Labour and Capital in Colonial Malaya). The detail incident which caused the death of four men were reported in local newspapers. At least now we knew that those four died in an incident occurred on Brooklands Estate, Banting on 16th May 1941.

The Singapore Free Press dated 17th May 1941 reported that four Indian labourers were shot dead by the army during a protest at Banting on 16th May 1941. It also reported that the army fired the shots in self-defence. Three strikers were killed and two received bayonet wounds which one of them subsequently proving fatal.

The incident took place on Brooklands Estate. When two men were arrested on Sungai Sedu Estate, the estate workers of 300 surrounded the residence of Brooklands Estate Manager, P.C Fisher where the Sungai Sedu Estate’s Manager, C.B Wheeler, took refuge with. They demanded the release of these 2 men. They labourers were armed with parangs, sticks and cangkul.

The military assistance was summoned. Forbes Wallace arrived the police and military troops. When the police tried to disperse the crowd, the violent broke out. The three dead Tamils and the injured were taken to Klang.

Another incident that also report in the same news was the unrest at Teluk Datok Estate where military were summoned to suppress the strikers. Arrests were made. Around 124 workers were arrested and conveyed to Kuala Lumpur by bus.

By 17th May 1941, situation of strike deteriorated with 39 estates involved in Kuala Lumpur District. The strike spread as far as Sungai Tinggi.

The government had called for units of Volunteer Force on stand-by at Rifle Range Camp. Chief of Police Selangor H.B Langworthy was directing in Klang and head of Criminal Intelligence Branch G.R Livett directing operation in Kuala Lumpur.

British Resident of Selangor, G.M Kidd has to declare state of emergency in Selangor. Units of Volunteer Force are standing by at Rifle Camp in case of emergency.

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