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JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesia’s military chief said Monday, February 10, Jakarta stood 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 which killed three people and injured 33.
“We won’t change the name of (the) warship,” General Moeldoko, the head the Indonesian armed forces, told reporters.
“I cannot accept Usman and Harun being declared as terrorists,” he added.
Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro backed up Moeldoko’s view, insisting the marines were “heroes”.
Their remarks were the latest salvo in the row between the neighbors which began last week when Singapore complained to Indonesia, its third-largest trading partner, over the ship’s name.
The attack by the marines was part of an effort by then Indonesian president Sukarno to stage an armed confrontation against the newly formed federation of Malaysia, which included Singapore.
The dispute over the name escalated Sunday when Jakarta announced that Indonesian defense officials had pulled out of the Singapore Airshow, which starts on Tuesday, February 11.
A defense ministry statement said that a visit by Deputy Defence Minister Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin to Singapore for a “strategic dialogue” had been scrapped too. However an Indonesian air force aerobatic team would still perform at the airshow, it added.
Despite the rising tensions, Moeldoko insisted Monday that the row had so far caused “no significant change in Singapore and Indonesian military ties”.
Singapore acrimoniously split from Malaysia to become an independent country on August 9, 1965.
Total trade between Singapore and Indonesia reached Sg$79.4 billion ($62.6 billion) in 2012. – Rappler.com