Worst of 37 attacks by Indonesian saboteurs in Singapore

THE bombing at MacDonald House in Orchard Road occurred during Konfrontasi, the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation that took place from 1963 to 1966.

Three people died and 33 people were injured, in the worst of 37 attacks in Singapore by Indonesian saboteurs.

Indonesia's then President Sukarno opposed the formation of Malaysia, which had included Singapore. Jakarta launched several low-level conflicts across Malaysia and Singapore.

Two Indonesian marines, Osman Mohamed Ali, 25, and Harun Said, 21, were charged with the MacDonald House bombing and hanged in Changi jail in 1968.

They were conferred national hero status by Indonesia and given a full military funeral in South Jakarta.

Indonesia's aggressive policy of confrontation ended in October 1965, when President Sukarno was overthrown.

In 1973, then Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew sprinkled flowers on the graves of the two marines. After this, both countries put the issue behind them and moved on to build close ties.

This week, Indonesia's Kompas newspaper reported that a new British-made frigate would be named after the two men, in line with the practice of naming ships after heroes.

On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen joined Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam in urging Indonesia to re-consider, as naming the ship after the men would reopen old wounds and leave Singaporeans asking what message Indonesia was trying to send.

But Indonesian leaders said the marines were heroes, and there would be no change of plans in naming the ship KRI Usman Harun.