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Police Action (Shooting)

Volume 463: debated on Wednesday 13 April 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will now give details of the shooting of two Chinese women by the police in Malaya on 23rd February.

I have already written to my hon. Friend, giving him all the available details of this incident.

Is the Minister aware that in his reply to me he says that he admits that two women were shot down and that they were shot down after a half-mile chase? What kind of police were they that could not catch a woman in less than half-a-mile? Will the hon. Gentleman give instructions that unarmed women are not to be followed and shot by police in future?

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Before trying to catch your eye to ask a question of the Minister with regard to this affair and in view of a former Ruling of yours, I would like to ask you whether it would be in Order for me to refer to the shooting of these two women as a shocking case of foul and bloody murder? Would that be in order?

I want to ask the Minister if in view of the statement that has been made by his own Department on the deliberate shooting of these two women, one of whom was killed and the other seriously injured, he will condemn this action in a statement to the authorities there and condemn it as an act of murder? Will he also bring the police to trial?

Surely the Under-Secretary is not going to sit there quietly and let such an accusation be levelled without comment against an Administration for which his Department is responsible?

These women were chased for half-a-mile, as has been stated. The police called upon them to halt and they refused to halt—

In the very enclosed situation that we have in Malaya, they were getting away. The police then fired—[HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."]—and as a result one woman was killed and the other died later in hospital.

As what we have received is a bare record of facts which to many of us are rather shocking on the face of it, can my hon. Friend say whether he condemns this happening or whether there are any other facts which would enable him to justify it?

I always regret the death of any person, whether it is a policeman or a member of the public, but hon. Members must realise the intensely difficult situation in Malaya with which the police have to grapple. In these circumstances, the women dashed out of a house which was being searched and refused to stop, and in accordance with the police promulgation previously made, they were liable to be fired on, and were in fact fired on.

Does the hon. Gentleman deny the half-mile chase that preceded the shooting?