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Singapore raises concerns as Indonesia names ship after two convicted marines

SINGAPORE — Minister for Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam has expressed concern to Jakarta about an Indonesian naval vessel being named after two Indonesian marines who set off a bomb in Singapore in the 1960s.

Minister for Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam. TODAY file photo

Minister for Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam. TODAY file photo

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SINGAPORE — Minister for Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam has expressed concern to Jakarta about an Indonesian naval vessel being named after two Indonesian marines who set off a bomb in Singapore in the 1960s.

In response to media queries on Indonesian press reports on the naming of the frigate, the KRI Usman Harun, after the two Indonesian marines, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 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.”

The Indonesian marines, Usman Hj Mohd Ali and Harun Said, were convicted and executed in Singapore for the bombing of MacDonald House on March 10, 1965.

According to a report in Kompas, published in Bahasa Indonesia and dated Feb 4, three Nakhoda Ragam class light frigates, fitted with the latest British-made weapons, will be delivered to the Indonesian Navy this year.

Indonesian Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Marsetio was reported in the Kompas report as saying that the ships would be named KRI Usman Harun, KRI Bung Tomo and KRI John Lie in remembrance of the services these individuals named had rendered to the Indonesian nation.

Usman and Harun were members of the KKO (Operations Corps Command), which has since been renamed the TNI Navy Marines Corps. Usman and Harun were members of the special force that infiltrated Singapore during the Indonesian Confrontation against Malaysia between 1963 and 1966, the Kompas report said.

Mr Marsetio said Bung Tomo was known for leading the Indonesian people’s resistance against the British and Dutch Allied forces in the Battle of Surabaya, on Nov 10, 1945.

John Lie was a Peranakan Chinese independence fighter and commander of a ship called The Outlaw. Lie smuggled agricultural produce from Sumatra to Phuket, Malacca and other parts of Malaya in order to buy arms for the Indonesian independence struggle from 1945 to 1949, the report said.

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