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Detained Persons

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 27 April 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the authorities have evidence of illegal acts against the 3,964 persons under detention in Malaya and Singapore who have made objections to the advisory committees, but have not been released; and whether it is the intention of the authorities to charge them with alleged offences.

It is not in the public interest to indicate on what grounds these persons were detained. No charge need be brought against them and the second part of the Question, therefore, does not arise.

Is it not clear that if only 100 have been released out of 4,000 people who objected to being detained, the other 3,900 are entitled to be tried or released, and that if the authorities have definite charges against them, they should subject them to the usual court procedure? Will the hon. Gentleman look into the matter?

We have looked into the matter very carefully, but, in the conditions in Malaya, one may be suspicious of persons against whom it is quite impossible to bring a charge. Either there is not sufficient evidence, or the witnesses are liable to be murdered while the case is proceeding. In those circumstances, it is necessary to have the measures we have taken. Every person who is detained has the right of going before a committee of review, which investigates the case and sees if there is evidence of some suspicious activity.