Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Indonesia, Singapore in row over name of Navy ship

When terrorists in one country are national heroes in another

The two men who carried out the MacDonald House bombing (left) only revealed they were Indonesian marines during their trial, in the hope of being treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. PHOTO: CHANNEL NEWSASIA

Tensions are running high between Indonesia and Singapore over the former’s decision to name a naval vessel after two convicted members of the Indonesian Marine Corps, who carried out the bombing of the MacDonald House office building in Singapore on March 10, 1965.

The bone of contention lies in how Harun Said and Usman Ali, the two Indonesian commandos, are seen by both countries.

In Singapore, they are the perpetrators of the bombing of a civilian target, while the Indonesian government sees them as national heroes who carried out their duty during Konfrontasi (1963-66) with Malaysia.


Let others have their heroes

Singapore is behaving like a petulant child again, throwing a temper tantrum over the Indonesian Navy’s decision to name a warship after two Indonesian marines whom Singapore hanged. Harun Said and Osman Haji Mohamed Ali bombed MacDonald House on 10 March 1965. Three people died and many more were injured.  The frigate KRI Usman Harun is named after them.

That was the time when Indonesia was waging Konfrontasi — a sort of low-level conflict — against Malaysia, of which Singapore was then a part. Indonesia saw newly-formed Malaysia as a neo-colonial project, designed to block the advance of “progressive nationalist” forces. Depending on how you want to read history, there is some truth to that. Even today, an outspoken political observer might call Singapore a bastion of robber-baron capitalism, complete with regressive social policies and fascist tendencies, always eager to kowtow to America.

When Usman and Harun were caught, they were not in uniform. Under interrogation, it was reported (by our government-friendly media — credibility alert!) that they gave conflicting accounts of their military status. Our government then chose to ignore the obvious and treated them as civilian murderers, and chose to hang them.


Singapore urges Jakarta not to 'reopen old wounds'


Combination photo of Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean (L), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen (C) and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam (R). The Singapore ministers are asking Indonesia to consider the feelings of Singaporeans in its decision to name a Navy ship after the Indonesian marines who bombed an Orchard Road building in 1965

THREE Singapore ministers have responded to Indonesia's decision to name a Navy ship after the Indonesian marines who bombed an Orchard Road building in 1965, leaving three people dead and 33 people injured.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Thursday joined Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam in asking Indonesia to consider the feelings of Singaporeans, saying naming the ship after the two men who were hanged in Singapore for their actions would reopen old wounds and leave Singaporeans asking what message Indonesia was trying to send.

But Indonesian leaders said marines Osman Mohamed Ali and Harun Said were considered heroes and there would be no changing the plan to name the navy frigate the KRI Usman Harun.
Singaporeans reacting to the news yesterday said the naming was insensitive and unfriendly, but many Indonesians defended their country's right to honour the two men.
Jakarta's move 'reflects disrespect': Singapore ministers


The warship KRI Usman Harun (right) with other new Indonesian Navy frigates at a shipyard in Britain. Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said that ''there is nothing heroic about killing innocent civilians''. - PHOTO: INDONESIAN NAVY

Two Cabinet ministers with military backgrounds took issue yesterday with Indonesia's decision to name a navy ship after two marines who bombed an Orchard Road building in 1965.

In separate Facebook posts, Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing and Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said it reflected disrespect, callousness and insensitivity.

Mr Tan, a one-star general before he entered politics, wrote in a Facebook post: "It is one thing to remember your heroes from your wars of independence, or those who have built your nation.

read more

"Helpful and constructive," says Foreign Minister Shanmugam of comments by Indonesian counterpart

Foreign Minister K Shanmugam has welcomed comments by his Indonesian counterpart, describing them as helpful and constructive.

Dr Marty Natalegawa had said on Tuesday that there had been no ill-will or malice intended in naming an Indonesian warship after two marines who had bombed a Singapore building in 1965, killing three civilians.

Speaking to Singapore media, he said: "Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa made some very helpful comments yesterday.

read more

Singapore's three-point agenda over ship naming issue



Singapore has chalked out a three-point agenda with regard to its protest against Indonesia's recent decision to name its new ship, KRI Usman-Harun, according to an observer.

"The Singaporean government has finalized three key points in its national agenda, which is in keeping with its stance against naming of the new Indonesian ship as KRI Usman-Harun," Guspiabri Sumowigeno, the director of Center for Indonesian National Policy Studies (Cinaps), stated in Jakarta on Tuesday.

He explained that the first point in the agenda was that Singapore, as a US ally, was keen to garner attention from the superpower with regard to getting more military support by sending a message that it is threatened by the Indonesian military's revival.


Indonesian President cautions S’pore on “overreacting”


Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stated yesterday that Singapore must reflect on regardless of whether its reaction to Indonesia’s decision to name a Navy ship soon after two Indonesian marines is “proportional”.

According to the Right now newspaper, which attributed Yudhoyono’s comments to Metrotvnews.com, the Indonesian president had given “serious attention to the concern.”

Yudhoyono’s remarks come amidst increasing tension between Singapore and Indonesia this previous week, because Indonesia decided to name the frigate after marines Usman Hj Mohd Ali and Harun Said final Tuesday. The ship would be called Usman Harun.


Indonesia Refuses to Budge in ‘Usman Harun’ Navy Boat Fiasco


The Indonesian Navy’s three newest frigates (from right): KRI Usman Harun 359, KRI John Lie 358 and KRI Bung Tomo 357. Photo source: Indonesian Navy)

Indonesia’s top military official brushed off criticism over the naming of a naval vessel after two men responsible for the fatal 1965 bombing of an office tower in Singapore, dismissing recent outcry in the city-state as “not a big deal.”

“Our relationship with Singapore is fine,” Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Moeldoko said on Monday. “The dispute about the naval ship name is only one small hurdle. It’s normal.”

Singaporean officials criticized the decision to name a retrofitted frigate “KRI Usman Harun” as insensitive after the news was reported in the Indonesian daily newspaper Kompas. But the complaints have fallen on deaf ears in Jakarta, where Indonesian officials insisted that the plan will move ahead, calling the two men — Usman Haji Mohamed Ali and Harun Said — national heroes for their roles in the March 10, 1965 Orchard Road bombing.


RI, Singapore row worsens


Indonesian Air Force’s Jupiter Aerobatic team performs a maneuver during an aerial display ahead of the Singapore Airshow on Sunday. Singapore and Indonesia are engaged in a war of words over the naming of an Indonesian corvette after Usman bin Haji Muhammad Ali and Harun bin Said — two marines who were executed for a bombing in Singapore in the 1960s. Reuters/Edgar Su

Tension between Indonesia and Singapore over the naming of an Indonesian Navy ship has risen, with officials from the Defense Ministry canceling a planned visit to the city-state to attend the Singapore Airshow.

The Defense Ministry made the move following the Singaporean government’s sudden decision to cancel a scheduled bilateral meeting on the two countries’ defense cooperation.

Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Sisriadi Iskandar said on Sunday that the defense attaché at the Singaporean Embassy in Jakarta had conveyed the cancellation of the bilateral meeting via text message on Saturday evening.


TNI warns of foreign meddling

Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. Moeldoko said on Monday that the nation’s armed forces would intensify their vigilance amid rising tensions with Australia and Singapore, which came at a time when Indonesia was preparing for elections.

In a closed-door meeting with the House of Representatives Commission I overseeing foreign affairs and defense, Moeldoko was asked if the recent bilateral spats with Canberra and Singapore were designed by foreign powers to disrupt the elections that would be held within the next six months.

The TNI commander said he believed the incidents had nothing to do with the elections, but that he was aware that the country was now focusing on domestic security prior to the legislative election and the election to determine the successor to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. “[What has happened recently] was accidental, but we will always be alert in protecting our borders,” Moeldoko said.

read more

KRI Usman-Harun here to stay: Minister

The Indonesian government has defended the decision to name a patrol vessel after national heroes Usman bin Haji Muhammad Ali and Harun bin Said, who were executed for the 1965 MacDonald House bombing in Singapore, saying the duo deserved the tribute for their service to the nation.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto brushed off concerns on Thursday voiced by Singapore, which stated the ship’s naming “would have an impact on the feelings of Singaporeans, especially the families of the [bombing] victims.”

“There’s no need to change [the ship’s name],” he told The Jakarta Post. “The Indonesian government has its own rules, procedures and assessment criteria for determining whether to honor a person as a hero. This cannot involve any intervention from other countries.”

read more

House backs govt in Usman-Harun row

Lawmakers of House Commission I overseeing defense called on the Indonesian government to pay no heed to the complaint, noting that Singapore had no right to meddle in the naming of an Indonesian vessel.

“What is the motive of the Singaporean government?” Tjahjo Kumolo, a Commission I member from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said on Friday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

“It is the right of the Republic of Indonesia, in particular the Indonesian Military [TNI], to give whatever name they want,” he continued.


Indonesia, Singapore in row over name of Navy ship

The Indonesian government is standing by its decision to name a warship after two marines who carried out a deadly bombing in Singapore in the 1960s, despite protest from the city-state.

Singaporeans’ dark memories of the MacDonald House bombing were reawakened after local media reports emerged on the newly christened KRI Usman-Harun 359, an Indonesian Navy corvette named after Second Sgt. Usman bin Haji Muhammad Ali and Second Cpl. Harun bin Said.

The two marines, who had both been declared national heroes by the Indonesian government, were executed in Singapore in 1968 for carrying out the bombing that killed three and injured 33. The Singaporean government was quick to issue a statement saying that the ship’s name “would have impact on the feelings of Singaporeans, especially the families of the [bombing] victims”.


Indonesian MPs, officers dismiss S'pore's objections

SINGAPORE'S objections to the naming of a new Indonesian naval frigate KRI Usman Harun were widely reported online in Indonesia, but brushed off by officers in the Indonesian military and MPs, who said a change of heart would imply weakness.

Indonesian Navy spokesman First Admiral Untung Suropati told Tempo.co news website: "They can go ahead and object - we are convinced the marines are heroes who should be emulated."

Indonesian Democratic Party- Struggle (PDI-P) MP Tubagus Hasanuddin told reporters that the government should reject any effort to rename the ship.
CRYING CHICKEN: Let Singapore keep shrieking, like a chicken beaten by a stick - Golkar MP Hajriyanto Thohari, deputy chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly
read more

Jakarta stands firm over `terrorist' ship

Indonesia's military chief says Jakarta stands by its decision to name a warship after two marines who staged a deadly 1960s bombing in Singapore, insisting the pair were not terrorists.

It came a day after Indonesian defense officials pulled out of this week's Singapore Airshow after the city-state complained about the Indonesian navy's decision to name the refurbished frigate KRI Usman Harun.

Usman Haji Mohamed Ali and Harun Said were executed in Singapore for their roles in the March 1965 blast at a downtown office complex that killed three people and injured 33.

read more

History gets between Indonesia and Singapore

A diplomatic row has broken out between Indonesia and Singapore over the naming of Indonesia's newest naval ship.

The RKI Usman Harun has been named after two Indonesian marines executed for a 1965 bombing in Singapore which killed three people.

Indonesia says it's to honour its heroes; Singapore says its opening old wounds.

read more

My hero is your enemy

Indonesia has, probably inadvertently at first, touched off a regional disagreement by announcing plans to deploy a new naval ship. The British-constructed frigate, now to be called KRI Usman Harun, will...

The “Usman” of the ship’s name is Second Sgt Usman bin Haji Muhammad Ali, while “Harun” refers to Second Cpl Harun bin Said. Both were in the Indonesian marines in March 1965, when they placed a bomb at...

That bombing, during the Indonesia-Malaysia konfrontasi or confrontation, was a battle victory for Indonesia. For Singapore, it was a deadly terrorist attack against a civilian target that killed three... 

read more

Too Much to Lose for Indonesia and Singapore

The diplomatic friction between Indonesia and Singapore over the naming of two naval vessels after Indonesian soldiers who bombed the city state and who were subsequently executed, should not be allowed to undermine relations between the two close neighbors.

Although the incident occurred nearly five decades ago, it is clear that emotions are still raw. Singapore views the two men as war criminals for their acts. Indonesia, however declared them national heroes shortly after the event.

Over the years, the two nations have moved on and managed to develop close economic, political and social ties.  Singapore is a major investor in Indonesia and Indonesians are among the top visitors to the city state, boosting its tourism and retails sectors.

read more

Indonesian Ship’s Name Opens Battle Wounds in Singapore


Ships anchor outside a port terminal in Singapore on Jul 17. The controversial naming of a warship by Indonesia has set off a diplomatic row between the Southeast Asian neighbors

A reopening of historical wounds, according to Singaporean leaders, who say Jakarta’s decision to name a new warship after two Indonesian marines executed for a deadly 1960s bombing in Singapore revives painful memories.

Osman Haji Mohamed Ali and Harun Said were convicted for killing three people and injuring 33 others in the March 1965 bombing of MacDonald House, a bank building in the Orchard Road shopping district. They were hanged in 1968.

Their names may have been relegated to the history books were it not for the announcement earlier this week that the Indonesian navy was naming one of three new British-made frigates the Usman Harun, in honor of the two marines it considers national heroes.

read more

Can we be more sensitive?

Indonesia often accuses its neighbors of a lack of sensitivity toward our feelings. Officials and politicians, helped by the media, do not hesitate to raise hell and mobilize public opinion, scoring a few political points along the way, by lashing out at foreign countries for their perceived insensitivity.

The decision to name this naval ship must surely have been the result of lengthy deliberations, and those involved must have known that this would upset Singapore. They could have picked from the thousands of other names of people buried in heroes cemeteries scattered across the country but instead, they chose these two.

In the future, can we be more sensitive?

read more

Singapore cancels invites to Indonesian officers


Indonesia Air Force's Jupiter Aerobatic team showing their aerial display at the Singapore Airshow 2014 on Feb 9, 2014. A top Indonesian naval officer and other military staff have been told that their invitations to the Singapore Airshow had been cancelled. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Indonesia's Defence Ministry's public communications head Sisriadi Iskandar said Singapore had pulled the invitation to Indonesian navy chief Marsetio and 100 Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) officers last Saturday.

The move comes amid a diplomatic row following Jakarta's decision to name a navy ship after the Indonesian marines who bombed an Orchard Road building, MacDonald House, in 1965 that left three dead and 33 hurt.

Brigadier-General Sisriadi also said Indonesian Deputy Defence Minister Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin decided not to come to Singapore after his counterpart, Second Defence Minister Chan Chun Sing, cancelled their meeting due to take place tomorrow. But sources said it was rescheduled.

read more

S’pore rescinds invite, Indonesia withdraws top brass from Airshow



After Singapore rescinded invitations to the chief of staff of the Indonesian Navy and to a group of 100 junior officers from the Indonesian Armed Forces, Indonesia has responded by withdrawing its top brass from the military from the Singapore Airshow altogether.

An Indonesian military spokesman said he believed Singapore pulled the invitations of the 100 lower-level officers because of Indonesia’s decision to name a navy ship after two Indonesian marines.

The Singapore Ministry of Defence (Mindef) “did not deny this latest development” when it was queried by local media on the withdrawal of the invitation.

read more

Indonesia Officials Skip Singapore Airshow as Tensions Increase

Singapore Airshow 2014
A woman, seen through a window, walks towards signage for the Singapore Airshow held at the Changi Exhibition Centre in Singapore. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Indonesia’s top army officials will skip the Singapore Airshow as tensions escalated between the two nations after Indonesia stood by its decision to name a navy ship after marines who bombed a building on the island in 1965.

Indonesia’s Deputy Defense Minister Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin and other senior military officials won’t attend the event in Singapore this week, both countries said separately. Teuku Faizasyah, a spokesman for Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, told reporters in Jakarta yesterday the government will stand by its decision to name the ship after the marines.

The no-show by the Indonesian army underscores relations between two neighbors that have been sprinkled with occasional frictions. In November, Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam met with his Indonesian counterpart following reports the city-state helped spy on its neighbor. In June, Yudhoyono apologized for forest fires that led to haze in the city-state.

read more

Indonesian delegation pulls out of Singapore Airshow


Indonesia Air Force's Jupiter Aerobatic team showing their aerial display at the Singapore Airshow 2014 on Feb 9, 2014. Indonesia's top defence officials, including deputy defence minister Lieutenant-General (Retired) Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, will not attend the Singapore Airshow, which starts on Tuesday. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Also giving the airshow a miss are the Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces General Moeldoko; Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Army, General Budiman; and Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Ida Bagus Putu Dunia.

The latest move comes amid a diplomatic row after Indonesia decided to name a Navy ship after the Indonesian marines who bombed an Orchard Road building in 1965, leaving three people dead and 33 people injured.

Singapore's defence ministry (Mindef) confirmed on Sunday it was informed of the the decision by the top military brass to pull out of the air show.

read more

KRI Usman Harun not welcome in Singapore waters


Firemen removing an injured person from the side entrance of MacDonald House following the bombing by Indonesian saboteurs in March 1965. The Indonesian navy's decision to name a frigate KRI Usman Harun in memory of the saboteurs has provoked strong responses from the Singapore authorities. - ST FILE PHOTO

Indonesia's decision to name a new warship KRI Usman Harun, after Indonesian saboteurs executed in Singapore decades ago for the MacDonald House bombing in 1965, sets interesting posers for Indonesia-Singapore defence and foreign relations.

The 90m-long warship should not be welcome in Singapore territorial waters, as the so-named man-of-war would tear open old wounds sustained during a violent time in our bilateral relations.

While ties are presently warm and friendly, the passage of KRI Usman Harun in Singapore's waters will inevitably turn the spotlight on the campaign of urban terrorism Indonesia unleashed against our island-nation during an undeclared war which history records euphemistically as the Confrontation.

read more

Singapore voices concern over naming of Indonesian navy ship

THREE Singapore ministers have responded to Indonesia's decision to name a Navy ship after the Indonesian marines who bombed an Orchard Road building in 1965, leaving three people dead and 33 people injured.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday joined Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam in asking Indonesia to consider the feelings of Singaporeans, saying naming the ship after the two men who were hanged in Singapore for their actions would reopen old wounds and leave Singaporeans asking what message Indonesia was trying to send.

But Indonesian leaders said marines Osman Mohamed Ali and Harun Said were considered heroes and there would be no changing the plan to name the navy frigate the KRI Usman Harun

Related
Indonesia, Singapore in row over name of Navy ship
Singapore in row with Indonesia over naming of boat
Indonesian Ship’s Name Opens Battle Wounds in Singapore

read more

Singapore in row with Indonesia over naming of boat


Indonesia's first president, Sukarno, instigated the 1960s konfrontasi campaign against the formation of Malaysia, which then included Singapore. Photograph: AP

Anger is mounting in Singapore over neighbouring Indonesia’s decision to name a new naval ship after two marines executed by the city-state for a 1960s bombing that left three people dead.

Three Singapore ministers have asked their Indonesian counterparts to reconsider the move to name a new frigate after Osman Haji Mohamed Ali and Harun Said, who were convicted for the March 1965 bombing of MacDonald House on Orchard Road in the city’s main shopping district.

The issue is likely to be another pressure point in the delicate relationship between the neighbours – ties were tested last year when the annual burning of Indonesian forests blanketed Singapore in a thick smog.

read more

Indonesia could have avoided row with Singapore: Jakarta Post


Indonesia could have avoided row with Singapore: Jakarta Post
Indonesia could have avoided the diplomatic row with Singapore over the naming of a naval ship if it had been a little more sensitive towards its neighbour, said an editorial in the Jakarta Post on Saturday.
It noted that Singapore has said naming the vessel after the two marines who planted a bomb in Singapore in 1965 would hurt the feelings of Singaporeans, particularly relatives of victims who died in the bombing.
"The decision to name this naval ship must surely have been the result of lengthy deliberations, and those involved must have known that this would upset Singapore," said Jakarta Post.

read more
Chan Chun Sing disappointed with Indonesian leaders over warship naming row
Chan Chun Sing disappointed with Indonesian leaders over warship naming row

Singapore's Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing has expressed disappointment with the Indonesian government's decision to name a warship after two marines who bombed MacDonald House on Orchard Road in 1965.

Mr Chan, who is also Second Minister for Defence, said that he was disappointed with the reactions of Indonesian leaders who have spoken on the issue so far.

In a post on his Facebook page on Friday, Mr Chan said that the statements reflected either a lack of sensitivity, a lack of care for the bilateral ties, or both.

read more

Naming of ship after MacDonald House bombers digs up painful memories



The move by Indonesia to name a warship after the two marines who bombed MacDonald House, leaving three dead and 33 injured, has dredged up painful memories among Singaporeans affected by the blast.

They said the attack took away their loved ones and left many with permanent scars, and they cannot understand why the Indonesian government has chosen to revisit the incident now, almost 50 years later.

The Singapore government has registered the country's concerns and asked Indonesia to consider the implications of the moves, especially the effect it will have on the families of the victims.


S'pore raises concerns over naming of Indonesian ship after convicted marines

Singapore has registered its concerns with Indonesia over the naming of a new navy ship to honour past servicemen.

A KOMPAS newspaper article on February 4 said the "KRI Usman Harun" will be the last of three frigates to be delivered to the Indonesian navy this year.

It is named after two Indonesian marines -- Osman Hj Mohd Ali and Harun Said -- who were convicted and executed in Singapore for the March 10, 1965 bombing of the MacDonald House.


Naming ship after MacDonald House bombers reflects "callousness", "disrespect"


Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin on Friday decried Indonesia's decision to name a warship in honour of two marines who bombed MacDonald House on Orchard Road in 1965, saying it reflects "callousness and disrespect".

On his Facebook page, he said his father worked in MacDonald House, but the bombing happened to take place on his day off. The attack left his father shaken.

Mr Tan said many Singaporean lives have been permanently scarred by the incident, including the victims of the attack and their families.


Indonesia naming ship after MacDonald House bombers "would reopen old wounds"

Singapore has sent a strong signal to Indonesia that it opposes the naming of an Indonesian warship after two marines who carried out the bombing of MacDonald House in Singapore in 1965.

A day after Foreign Minister K Shanmugam spoke to his Indonesian counterpart to register Singapore's concerns, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen also spoke separately with their counterparts.

They conveyed Singapore's position that the bombing was wrong, and was a grievous attack on civilians in Singapore that resulted in deaths and injuries.


Singapore voices concern over naming of Indonesian navy ship

Marty Natalegawa, minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, pictured during a conference in Montreux, Switzerland, on January 22, 2014
Marty Natalegawa, minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, pictured during a conference …
Singapore has voiced concerns over Indonesia's reported plans to name a naval ship after marines who were executed for bombing an office complex in the city-state during a period of tense relations in the 1960s

Singapore's foreign ministry said in a statement issued late Wednesday that Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam had spoken to his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa over the issue.

It said that Shanmugam, who visited Jakarta this week, registered "Singapore's concerns over the naming of the navy ship and the impact this would have on the feelings of Singaporeans, especially the families of the victims" of the bomb attack for which the two Indonesian marines were executed.

"The two Indonesian marines were found guilty of the bombing, which killed three people and injured 33 others," the statement said.


Old wounds

"However, the naming of the Indonesian warship after the two marines who carried out the bombing would re-open old wounds, not just among the victims and their families, but also for the Singapore public. Singaporeans would ask what message Indonesia is trying to send by naming its warship in this manner."

The latest response comes after a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman had said on Wednesday night that Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam had spoken to his Indonesian counterpart, Dr Marty Natalegawa, to register these concerns.

Indonesia's Kompas daily had reported this week that the last of the Indonesian Navy's three new British-made frigates would be named the KRI Usman Harun, after marines Osman Haji Mohamed Ali and Harun Said.


Singapore concerned over naming of Indonesian navy ship after executed commandos
Osman Haji Mohammed Ali, 22, and Harun Said, alias Tahir, 26, (third and fourth from left) were charged with having "knowingly caused" the deaths of three persons when a bomb exploded on the landing of the mezzanine floor of MacDonald House on March 10, 1965

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman's comments:
"In response to press queries on Indonesian media reports on the naming of an Indonesian naval vessel, the KRI Usman Harun, after the two Indonesian marines, Osman Hj Mohd Ali and Harun Said, who were convicted and executed in Singapore for the 10 March 1965 bombing of MacDonald House, the MFA Spokesman said: "The two Indonesian marines were found guilty of the bombing which killed three people and injured 33 others.
"Singapore had considered this difficult chapter in the bilateral relationship closed in May 1973 when then-PM Lee Kuan Yew visited and scattered flowers on the graves of the two marines.
"Minister for Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam spoke to Indonesian Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Marty Natalegawa to register Singapore’s concerns over the naming of the navy ship and the impact this would have on the feelings of Singaporeans, especially the families of the victims.”
related: The MacDonald House bombing that shook Singapore in 1965

read more

Naming of Indonesian ship would open old wounds


File photo of a bomb explosion that killed two office girls in the Macdonald House in Orchard Road

Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Teo Chee Hean and Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen spoke separately to their Indonesian counterparts, Coordinating Minister for Legal, Political and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto and Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro on the matter.

In response to media queries, the press secretary to DPM Teo said that Singapore initiated the phone calls to express "our concerns because we value the good relations we have with Indonesia".

"DPM Teo and Dr Ng, on behalf of the Singapore Government, respectfully asked that Indonesia takes into account the feelings of the victims and their families, and the implications and consequences, when making their decision whether to name the warship after the two marines."


House backs Indonesian govt in Usman-Harun row


Members of the House of Representatives are supporting the government's decision to ignore Singapore's concerns about naming an Indonesian Navy ship after two national heroes who were executed in the city-state for the 1965 MacDonald House bombing.

The Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently registered its complaint over the Indonesian Navy's decision to name a British-made corvette after two marines, Second Sgt. Usman bin Haji Muhammad Ali and Second Cpl. Harun bin Said, who carried out a deadly bombing in Singapore in the 1960s.

The ministry was concerned that the newly christened KRI Usman-Harun 356 "would have impact on the feelings of Singaporeans, especially the families of the victims".


Singapore leaders express concern

AFTERMATH: MacDonald House on March 10, 1965. Three people were killed and 33 injured in the bombing. The two Indonesian marines responsible were convicted and executed in Singapore in 1968

Singapore has asked Indonesia to take into account the feelings of victims and families of the 1965 Orchard Road bombing, as well as the implications and consequences of naming a new warship after the two marines who carried out the attack.

Three people died and another 33 were injured in the MacDonald House blast, which happened at the height of Indonesia's Confrontation against Malaysia, of which Singapore was then a state.

Indonesia's Kompas newspaper reported this week that one of the Indonesian Navy's three new British-made frigates would be named the KRI Usman Harun, prompting Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam to register his concerns with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.


MacDonald House blast: 3 dead, 33 injured, but bombers treated as heroes in Indonesia

THE MacDonald House bombing was the worst attack in Singapore by Indonesian saboteurs during Konfrontasi, the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation that took place from 1963 to 1966.

Indonesia's then president Sukarno had opposed the formation of Malaysia, which Singapore was part of from September 1963 to August 1965, as a puppet state of the British.

Jakarta's armed opposition led it to launch several low-level conflicts across Malaysia and Singapore during that period. In Singapore, Indonesian saboteurs set off a total of 37 bombs, the worst of which happened in Orchard Road, where MacDonald House was located.


Indonesian MPs, officers dismiss S'pore's objections

SINGAPORE'S objections to the naming of a new Indonesian naval frigate KRI Usman Harun were widely reported online in Indonesia, but brushed off by officers in the Indonesian military and MPs, who said a change of heart would imply weakness

Indonesian Navy spokesman First Admiral Untung Suropati told Tempo.co news website: "They can go ahead and object - we are convinced the marines are heroes who should be emulated."

Indonesian Democratic Party- Struggle (PDI-P) MP Tubagus Hasanuddin told reporters that the government should reject any effort to rename the ship.

"Don't be weak. If we change, it means downgrading Usman and Harun to non-hero status," the former major-general said. "It means we bend to Singapore's will. To me, that is not right."


Endangering Our Nation


KRI Usman Harun 359 is on the right

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Foreign Minister Shanmugam are all simultaneously saying that naming an Indonesian warship after two marines who parachuted into Singapore at a time of war would reopen old wounds. What they should really reflect upon is what Lee Kuan Yew had hoped to achieve when he shocked President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with the uncalled for commentary that SBY could only achieve one third of what he set out to do for his country.

Usman Hj Mohd Ali and Harun Said were obeying orders from their military commanders when they planted 25 lbs of explosive at MacDonald House in Orchard Road on March 10, 1965. During the Konfrontasi, there were 37 bombs exploded in Singapore. For their bravery and supreme sacrifice, president Soeharto honoured them with a state funeral at the Kalibata National Heroes Cemetery in South Jakarta. A National University of Singapore don put it in perspective, "It's perfectly all right and normal to name ships after the heroes of the nation."

Two other ships expected to enter service in June are named KRI Bung Tomo 357, after Sutomo, who led the popular resistance against Allied British and Dutch forces in the Battle of Surabaya in November 1945; and KRI John Lie 358, after John Lie who smuggled agricultural produce to buy and smuggle arms from Malaya to assist the Indonesian independence struggle against the Dutch from 1945 to 1949. Lie completed his career in the navy with a rank of rear admiral.

read more

An ill wind blows this way…

There’s an ill wind blowing this way but it’s not bearing anyone any ill will…Ooops! Did I just get stuff mixed up? Anyway,  the point of origin is Indonesia.

So there Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty blows…when Indonesia named the frigate after the two MacDonald House bombers, there was no ill inent, no malice. That’s what he said at what ST described as a “hastily-called’’ press conference for Singapore media. Seems like the little red dot screamed loud enough for those in charge of diplomacy to hear. Would that we could hear from its armed forces too…

But what does no malice intended mean? I can think of a couple of things. First, the naming was an “oversight’’ by uninformed, clueless bureaucrats who had no idea that it would disappoint and even anger, Singapore. Second, that they thought it was no big deal anyway since it happened 50 years ago, so why not just go ahead? Third, Indonesia really, really had no more “heroes’’ it can name the frigate after…

read more

Gunboat Diplomacy Neanderthal Style


BJ Habibie – he can give my red dot a BJ!

Singapore has sent a strong signal to Indonesia that it opposes the naming of an Indonesian warship after two marines who carried out the bombing of MacDonald House in Singapore in 1965, causing deaths and injuries.

However, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto said that Indonesia had considered the issue “in a mature way.”

And Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said that the Indonesian government has noted Singapore’s concerns but sees no reason to change the name of the ship.

read more

Indonesia naming ship after MacDonald House bombers
LKY was in fact ‘persuaded’ by ambassador to Indonesia Lee Khoon Choy to sprinkle flowers over the graves of the executed

In today’s context, Osman and Harun would have been labelled ‘terrorists’, and not a single mention of ‘terrorism’ or ‘terror’ was made in the entire ST article. In contrast, the original report on the bomb blast back in 1965 read ‘TERROR BOMB KILLS 2 GIRLS at BANK’. Dr Toh Chin Chye was also quoted as describing the tragedy as a ‘senseless act of cruelty’ and that people must play a more positive and determined part to ‘weed out terrorists’ in our midst.

In 2012, a blogger by the name of Thimbuktu captured the plaque on the facade of the still standing, and now National Monument, which tells us that the building was a ‘scene of a bomb attack by Indonesian TERRORISTS on 10 March 1965 during Konfrontasi’. I’m not sure if the inflammatory word has been edited since, or if anyone in the Middle East names warships after Saddam or Usama.

Among the innocents killed in the blast were 36 yr old Suzie Khoo, private secretary, 23 yr old Juliet Goh, filing clerk, and driver Mohammed Yasin bin Kesit, 45. I don’t remember the MacDonald House attack being mentioned in any of our history textbooks, nor any of the 37 bombs that hit us during the Sukarno led Konfrontasi. It wasn’t just public buildings being targetted. In Dec 1963, two men were killed in Sennett Estate, while another deadly bomb went off on April 1964 at a BLOCK OF HDB FLATS off Changi Road. The thought of such a disaster happening in the heartland is unimaginable, while people like Caleb Rozario are having fantasies about the MBS being pulverised by missiles from heaven

read more

Civility in the Face of External Provocation (KRI Usman Harun)?

Minister for Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam spoke to his Indonesian counterpart to register Singapore's concerns and the impact it would have on the feelings of Singaporeans, especially the families of the victims.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen spoke to their respective Indonesian counterparts.

They conveyed the Government's perspective that the bombing was a wrong and grievous attack on civilians in Singapore, which resulted in deaths and injuries.

read more

We may be Tiny Red Dot but we are the world’s hottest Chilli Padi!

As neighbors living in close proximity, we do have our differences once in a while. It’s akin to the ups and downs in an exhilarating roller coaster ride as we turn the wheel of life together. Just take a deep look at the pages of history. Even as close neighbors trade with each other for economic gains and interact for mutual benefits; differences arise from time to time leading to squabbles and disputes. If they got out of hand, may even lead to border skirmishes escalating to a full blown military confrontation. They happened throughout history and we are not immune to such imponderables. The on-going bitter Kashmir territorial dispute between Pakistan and India, the un-resolved PRC and ROC status quo and the North and South Koreans stalemate are some notable ones happening right in front of our eyes in recent times.

The recent diplomatic spat between us – a tiny red dot and that huge giant land mass of Indonesia is not so bad if we compare it to those examples quoted. As a matter of fact, we are still within the Asean family. Remember the many bitter border issues such the most recent Thai and Cambodia ancient temple border dispute with military skirmishes which was resolved when other Asean nations intervened. Indonesia’s decision to name a navy ship after two marines who bombed an Orchard Road building in 1965 which lead to civilians killed during the confrontation period is the latest diplomatic row within the Asean nations.

History is always interpreted differently by different people. It depends on which angle you are looking at. The Indonesians view the 2 dead soldiers as national heroes when they carried out their mission paying with their lives as the ultimate sacrifice. They were merely carrying out orders during that turbulent period. Whereas, we view it differently cuz they targeted civilians. It is universally accepted that professionals should not target civilians at all. Nevertheless, we thought that that episode was over when our leader paid his respects by scattering flower petals on their graves. Why then it re-surfaced again after more than 50 years with the past unpleasant memories back to haunt us when it’s nearly forgotten?


read more


Indonesia Reopens old Wounds



Recently Indonesia has taken the decision to name a warship after one of the marines who bombed MacDonald House on 10 March 1965 during the period of armed confrontation (known by the Indonesian word konfrontasi) between Malaysia (of which Singapore was then a part) and Indonesia.  For those who were not around and do not know the history the state of Singapore did not actually exist then.

I was born in 1959 and would then still have been a colonial subject of Her Majesty the Queen though at the time of the bombing this would have become Malaysian citizenship. I have a personal connection to that tragedy besides the geographic one. My mother,  Margaret Jeyaretnam who had come over to the Straits Settlement in 1955 to marry my father later became one of the first citizens of the new republic of Singapore.  She also became one of the first lawyers of newly independent Singapore . In fact she was senior to my father who was in the Government Legal Service at the time. She also later set up the Samaritans of Singapore as well as being Registrar of the Anglican Diocese of Singapore and Malaysia. In 1965  she was working for the law firm of Donaldson and Burkinshaw who were  situated at MacDonald House.

Looking at that building today  it is hard to believe that it was the first modern office building with central air conditioning in Malaysia and our early version of a sky scraper. Presumably the reason why it was targeted.

read more

Usman Harun – A call for wise leadership

Chan Chun Sing said that this issue required the presence of wise leadership, for more dialogue to prevent the fanning of a flame, to prevent creating an external issue to divert domestic problems. And Yudhoyono cautioned against over reacting and dragging a good relationship developed over the years back to the past.

Both statements are words of caution to warn the young turks from behaving like they are, hot behind the ears. The Indonesians had done something that we cannot agree on and we are reacting. As far as the Indonesians are concerned, this is their domestic matters and who are we to interfere and tell them what to do and what not to do. Now, who is fanning a flame, creating an external problem to divert from domestic issues or over reacting and dragging a good relationship into the past?

How significant is the naming of a naval ship after the two terrorists, yes they were terrorists to us but heroes to the Indonesians, compares to the hundreds of thousands killed by the Japanese during their invasion of the island?

read more

A frigate's name: Lessons from Indonesia



Indonesia has unambiguously reminded us who and what they really are. We had it good with Suharto but he could only rule and live for so long. What we can expect from them most of the time, thinking in probabilities comes from their history and culture. We had conveniently forgotten that those two marines remain war heroes. We failed to juxtapose this against how Germany view the Nazis - no war heroes from there except shot by Hitler.

To be realistic could we expect otherwise? No. Was it right for the Indonesians to regard those marines as war heroes? I think so. They were just carrying out orders as any soldier would. Civilian targets? Don't be a hypocrite, war is damn dirty. Just check what is going in Syria now. That's why we should only resort to fighting as a last resort but carry it a big stick and talk softly as the first resort.

And why do I demand that our leaders should never pussy foot but tell us with with a bold face what the issues are. We will be swallowed up if we are timid. From their reaction of us complaining to them about the haze, I am afraid they increasingly think we can be bullied. Perhaps it is time to send a clear message. We don't want anyone to get hurt.

read more

related:
reuters/2014/02/07/us-singapore-indonesia-ships-idUSBREA1607020140207
channelnewsasia/news/singapore/naming-of-ship-after/986564.html
straitstimes/indonesia-minister-defends-move-name-warship-after-marines
stasiareport/indonesia/story/indonesian-mps-officers-dismiss-spores-objections
antara/usman-harun-as-name-of-navys-newest-ship-has-been-through-procedures
todayonline/indonesian-leaders-statements-lacked-sensitivity-says-chan-chun-sing
yahoo/singapore-voices-concern-over-naming-indonesian-navy-ship-051914755
todayonline/spore-raises-concerns-indonesia-name-ship-after-2-convicted-marines
channelnewsasia/news/singapore/dpm-defence-minister/985112.html
todayonline/indonesias-naming-warship-after-convicted-marines-would-re-open
theguardian/world/2014/feb/07/spore-in-row-with-indonesia-over-naming-of-boat
channelnewsasia/news/singapore/naming-ship-after/986498.html
channelnewsasia/news/singapore/chan-chun-sing/986676.html
google news coverage