Despite Singapore raising concerns over its naming of a navy ship after two of its marines who had bombed MacDonald’s House in Singapore in 1965, the Indonesian government insists that it has the right to do so, and dismissed the concerns raised by Singapore.
Indonesia had decided to name a patrol vessel – Usman Harun – after the country’s national heroes, Usman bin Haji Muhammad Ali and Harun bin Said, who were later executed (in 1968) for the 1965 MacDonald House bombing in Singapore.
The Indonesian government says the duo deserved the tribute for their service to the nation.
On Wednesday, Singapore’s Law and Foreign Affairs Mnister, K Shanmugam, first raised concerns about the matter to his Indonesian counterpart.
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson 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-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew visited and scattered flowers on the graves of the two marines.”
On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs minister, Teo Chee Hean, and Defence Minister, Ng Eng Hen, weighed in on the controversy, saying the Indonesian action would “reopen old wounds.”
The press secretary to DPM Teo said:
“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.”
“We initiated the phone calls to express our concerns because we value the good relations we have with Indonesia.”
He added, “The naming of the Indonesian warship after the two marines who carried out the bombing would reopen 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 Indonesian Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister, Djoko Suyanto, however has brushed off these concerns.
“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.”