photo: Facebook of Singapore Embassy in Jakarta

Protest outside the Singapore embassy in Jakarta against alleged mistreatment of retired Indonesian general

Demonstrators from Pemuda Panca Marga (PPM), an organisation linked to the military, held a small protest against the alleged mistreatment of a retired Indonesian general at Changi Airport last week, outside the Singapore embassy in Jakarta on Tuesday (23 August).

The Singapore Embassy in Jakarta had just opened its doors on Tuesday (23 August) for well-wishers to sign a condolence book after Mr SR Nathan’s passing, when the protesters, about 30 people, came.

In its Facebook post, the embassy said that the demonstration proceeded outside without interrupting the signing of the condolence book inside, and the PPM demonstrators left the embassy area after its representatives handed over a note of protest to a Singapore embassy official.

On 17 August, Mr Prabowo arrived in Singapore from Fiji and was transiting through Changi Airport for his flight back to Jakarta.

Facebook posts by Mr Prabowo and Indonesian media reports claimed he was denied entry to Singapore because he was “blacklisted”.

But in a statement on Saturday, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) clarified that he was interviewed by checkpoint officers, a practice following screening procedures for border security,

“As part of the immigration clearance process, travellers to Singapore may be subjected to additional interview and screening. These procedures are conducted at all of Singapore’s checkpoints,” the ICA stated.

“After completing the interview, Mr Prabowo was allowed to board his flight.”

Indonesian media reported that the Indonesian Military (TNI) Chief, General Gatot Nurmantyo, wrote a note to Singapore to protest the treatment of Mr Prabowo.

However, Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir later clarified that Mr Prabowo had not been blacklisted, explaining that a similar name may have been the cause behind the interview. Nasir also gave no indication that the Indonesian Foreign Ministry would file a note of protest.

The Singapore Embassy in Jakarta took the occasion to recount one of Mr Nathan’s sayings in relation to the incident, “This was a suitable moment to recall what Mr S R Nathan had once said about the qualities needed to be a successful Foreign Service Officer of Singapore: patience, calmness, modesty, empathy and good humour.”

“More importantly, he had also reminded us that Singapore Foreign Service Officers must have patriotism and a sense of mission; integrity and honesty; and the ability to carry on with our work, even under pressure; Timeless advice.”

“We would like to extend our thanks to the Jakarta police for ensuring law and order, as well as the safety of the Embassy during this period,” the embassy said.