MacDonald House bombers: Batam told to scrap plan for heroes statue

JAKARTA (JAKARTA POST/ANN) - Riau Islands Governor Muhammad Sani told the Batam chapter of the Indonesian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) to scrap its plan to build a statue in honour of former marines and national heroes Osman Mohamed Ali and Harun Said to prevent further friction with Singapore.

"With the current situation, please reconsider (the plan) and do not add more problems," Mr Sani was quoted as saying by the Antara news agency on Sunday.

He said there was no doubt both Osman and Harun were national heroes as their names had been immortalised on street signs and the recently christened warship that has drawn the strong condemnation of Singapore, where the two are considered terrorists for carrying out a bombing on a civilian target, the MacDonald House, there in the mid-1960s.

Mr Sani said that Batam Kadin should not add fuel to the fire and should bear in mind that Batam is a stone's throw away from Singapore.

"What is the benefit for us?" Mr Sani asked.

Currently, the Batam Free Trade Zone Management Agency (BPK- FTZ) is still reviewing the building permit for the Osman-Harun statue.

BPK-FTZ spokesman and One Roof Integrated Services (PTSP) director Dwi Djoko Wiwoho previously said that there were several factors to consider regarding the permit for the statue: aesthetics, maintaining good relations and Batam's location.

He noted that there were many Singaporean businesspersons investing in Batam.

Mr Dwi said, however, that both Osman and Harun were national heroes who should be remembered and respected.

Meanwhile, a Batam resident, Mr Parulian, said that the plan to build statues for Osman and Harun was weird because it touched on political issues that should only be dealt with by the central government.

"Kadin is a group of businesspeople, so they should just deal with business," he said.

"What if Singaporeans pull their investment?"

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