Singapore welcomes Indonesia's stance on warship
FOREIGN Minister K. Shanmugam has welcomed his Indonesian counterpart's stance that there was no ill will intended in Indonesia's naming of a warship after two marines who carried out the MacDonald House bombing.
Indonesia Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said on Tuesday that no ill will, malice or unfriendly outlook had been meant and that Indonesia values its relationship with Singapore.
Yesterday, Mr Shanmugam said: "In that context, it is quite important for us to know that the marines are not being honoured for killing Singaporeans."
Still, he added, both countries had to understand and acknowledge that the naming of the ship "impacts us and our sensitivities".
Mr Shanmugam said that, although it was Indonesia's sovereign right to name the ship as it chooses, sovereign decisions can have an impact on other countries.
It is one thing to name a building in Indonesia after them or bury them in the Heroes' Cemetery, but quite another to name a warship after the two men, said Mr Shanmugam.
"The signal would be very different because the ship sails the seven seas, carrying that message to every land that it goes to, as it carries that nation's flag."
Indonesia's naming of the navy ship after marines Usman Mohamed Ali and Harun Said had sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries, after it was reported in the press last week.
The men had posed as civilians and set off a bomb in MacDonald House on March 10, 1965, killing three people and injuring 33.
They were later tried and executed here in 1968, but were given heroes' burials in Indonesia. Indonesia has said it will name the new navy frigate the KRI Usman Harun.
THE STRAITS TIMES