SINGAPORE - A memorial to the victims of Konfrontasi was unveiled on Tuesday evening, on the 50th anniversary of the worst bomb attack post-war Singapore experienced.
The memorial at Dhoby Ghaut Green faces MacDonald House, where on March 10, 1965 a bomb planted by Indonesian saboteurs exploded, killing three and injuring 33 others.
It was the darkest day of Konfrontasi, or Confrontation, the period in the 1960s when Indonesia waged an undeclared war to oppose the formation of Malaysia. Singapore was part of the new nation briefly, from 1963 to 1965.
"It was a dark and painful chapter in our history, during which many lives were hurt, damaged and lost. Although it happened five decades ago, we as Singaporeans must never forget this part of our nation's history," said Brigadier-General (NS) Winston Toh, President of the Singapore Armed Forces Veteran League (SAFVL) , which organised the memorial service.
"Those turbulent times demonstrated the high price of not having a strong defence, and not being able to protect our nation's sovereignty and security."
The ceremony was attended by families of those who were killed and injured in the bombing, as well as by veteran soldiers and volunteers who had defended Singapore through that era. They were honoured for the sacrifices they and their families had made for their country.
"Words cannot repay the debt we owe to these individuals, and to their fellow comrades who had laid down their lives," Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, who was guest-of-honour, said in a speech at the ceremony.
"But with our actions, we will keep faith with them and with all that they stand for. We will pledge to do our utmost to remember their lives, their sacrifices and their valour."
The memorial was built after the SAFVL petitioned Mr Wong a year ago to find suitable ways to remember the victims of Konfrontasi and educate younger generations about this chapter of Singapore's history.
"This will be a lasting reminder of the victims of Konfrontasi, and those who risked their lives defending our country," said Mr Wong. "This will be a sacred space for contemplation and reflection in the heart of our city: where we can remember our fallen, honour our defenders, and gather confidence to face our future."