Hornbill Unleashed

December 15, 2013

Let’s bury the Death Railway ‘blood money’ issue for good

Filed under: Human rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
Tags: , , ,

Ng Kee Seng

The “blood money” issue which was raised by then Bukit Gantang MP Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin before the 13th general election (GE13) is making its rounds again in Facebook.

Who can blame the people from regularly raising the matter when the Malaysian government has refused to clarify the issue beyond doubt?

Nizar had then claimed that some RM207 billion was paid by Tokyo to the Malaysian government for victims of the Death Railway, an ambitious project by the Japanese imperial government to link Thailand and Burma by rail through the use of forced labour.

It was reported that a Japanese embassy official in Kuala Lumpur then denied knowledge of the RM207 billion compensation as claimed by Nizar, but had said that the two governments had agreed through an international deal reached in 1967 for Japan to pay “blood money”.

It also claimed that the compensation, in the form of grants and services worth some RM25 million to Malaysia, had been transferred “around 1970s or 80s”.

While the figure claimed by Nizar may sound exorbitant, the issue has been further muddled by the government’s lack of transparency in the whole affair.

The Malaysian public’s beef with the government is: “What happened to the compensation paid by Japan? Did the families of Death Railway victims receive any compensation?”

PAS’ Harakahdaily had reported that the huge amount of compensation could have been used to develop the Malaysia International Shipping Corporation (MISC).

The then PAS information chief Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, demanding a detailed explanation from the Malaysian government, also referred to a 2007 report carried by Umno mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia quoting Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, the then secretary at the Foreign Ministry, as saying that the “blood money” paid by Tokyo had been used to develop MISC.

Shabery was also quoted as saying that the government would not allow individuals and organisations to make direct claims of compensation from Japan.

Why can’t the federal government come clean on a compensation issue that dates back to World War II events?

Its failure to do so raises suspicions and the issue will continue to haunt the Barisan Nasional (BN) government until it is cleared convincingly.

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