JAKARTA: Indonesia acknowledged Friday that two of its marines wore bombers’ names on their uniforms while on duty at international talks this week, an action that prompted the Singapore delegation to leave.
Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said the incident at the Jakarta International Defense Dialogue was inappropriate and would be investigated.
The marines wore name labels for Usman Haji Mohamed Ali and Harun Said, two commandos sent by Indonesia to carry out an attack in 1965 that killed three civilians and injured 33 others, as part of President Sukarno’s “confrontation” policy. Indonesia has named a warship after the two men, whom Singapore regards as terrorists.
Singapore’s delegation withdrew from the talks, which were held Wednesday and Thursday, and its diplomats protested to Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry and military.
Yusgiantoro, however, said he was confident the incident would not affect bilateral relations.
“We have asked the navy to investigate why that could happen because it was clearly inappropriate,” Yusgiantoro told reporters.
Tensions between wealthy, small Singapore and its giant and still-developing neighbor have flared in recent times over Indonesia’s naming of the warship — the KRI Usman Harun — after the two commandos who carried out the deadly bombing.
Singapore has branded the commandos, who were arrested and executed a few years later, as terrorists, and says naming the warship after them reopened old wounds.
Indonesian officials have defended the ship’s naming as an internal affair.