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Parliament
 
Ng Eng Hen, Defence

Indonesian warship Usman Harun disallowed from calling at Singapore ports and naval bases

Published on Feb 18, 2014 3:07 PM
 
Indonesian Navy's three frigates, KRI Usman Harun 359 (right), KRI John Lie 358 (centre) and KRI Bung Tomo 357 (left). Singapore will disallow the Indonesian warship, named after two marines who carried out a bombing in Orchard Road, from calling at the Republic's ports or naval bases. -- FILE PHOTO: INDONESIAN NAVY

SINGAPORE will disallow the Indonesian warship, named after two marines who carried out a bombing in Orchard Road, from calling at the Republic's ports or naval bases.

The Singapore Armed Forces, as "protectors of this nation", will also not sail alongside or undergo training exercises with the new Indonesian navy frigate, the KRI Usman Harun, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, in response to MP Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC).

Mr Zaqy had asked how the Defence Ministry (Mindef) and the SAF would respond to the Indonesian Navy's decision to name a new frigate after two marines who bombed MacDonald House in Orchard Road in 1965, killing three people and injuring 33 others.

On Indonesia's decision to name the ship, Dr Ng said Mindef "knew the harm it would cause to bilateral relations".

While Singapore wants good bilateral ties with Indonesia and has worked hard to develop the friendship and military cooperation, he said the naming of the ship has heightened suspicions and resentments on both sides, "setting back many decades of relationship building in defence ties".

He also said the naming of the warship came as "an utter surprise".

"Mindef and the SAF were disappointed and dismayed over this inexplicable move. Even without ill intent, how can the naming of the ship after the two bombers build good ties, or enhance mutual respect and regard with both our countries?"

When Singapore received news about the naming of the ship, Dr Ng called his Indonesian counterpart, who was in Europe, at 8 in the morning.

"I would not have disturbed his trip unless it was an important matter and the Indonesian Defence Minister knew it."

He said that he stated the Government's position and followed up with a written note, so that there would be "no misunderstanding about our deep concern".