World

KRI Usman-Harun here to
stay: Minister

The Indonesian government has defended the decision to name a patrol vessel after national heroes Usman bin Haji Muhammad Ali and Harun bin Said, who were executed for the 1965 MacDonald House bombing in Singapore, saying the duo deserved the tribute for their service to the nation.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto brushed off concerns on Thursday voiced by Singapore, which stated the ship’s naming “would have an impact on the feelings of Singaporeans, especially the families of the [bombing] victims.”

 “There’s no need to change [the ship’s name],” he told The Jakarta Post.

 “The Indonesian government has its own rules, procedures and assessment criteria for determining whether to honor a person as a hero. This cannot involve any intervention from other countries.”

The Indonesian Navy has decided to name one of three UK-made offshore patrol vessels KRI Usman-Harun 359, after the two national heroes.

Usman and Harun were members of the Navy Commando Corps (KKO AL), now the the Marine Corps, tasked to infiltrate Singapore during the Confrontation against the newly created Malaysia.

Then president Sukarno opposed the formation of Malaysia, which Singapore was part of from September 1963 to August 1965, as a puppet state of the British.

Both marines were convicted and executed in Singapore in 1968. Their remains were taken back to Indonesia and former president Soeharto awarded the two national hero status with a state funeral at Kalibata National Heroes Cemetery in South Jakarta.

Usman, whose real name was Janatin, was promoted post humously to second sergeant while Harun, whose real name was Tohir bin Mandar, was promoted post humously to second corporal.

The other two ships are named KRI Bung Tomo 357, after Sutomo, the leader of resistance against the Allied forces in Surabaya, East Java, in 1945; and KRI John Lie 358.

Lie was a Chinese-Indonesian who was actively smuggling weapons across the Malacca Strait to assist the Indonesian independence struggle against the Dutch. Lie later changed his name to Jahja Daniel Dharma and ended his career in the navy with a rank of rear admiral.

The three warships are expected to enter service in June pending the commissioning process in the UK.

On Wednesday, the Singapore Ministry for Foreign Affairs released a statement saying that Foreign Minister K Shanmugam had spoken to Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa “to register Singapore’s concerns over the naming of the navy ship”.

“The two Indonesian marines were found guilty of the bombing which killed three people and injured 33 others. Singapore had considered this difficult chapter in the bilateral relationship closed in May 1973 when then-prime minister Lee Kuan Yew visited and scattered flowers on the graves of the two marines,” the statement read.

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