Indonesia’s top defence officials, including deputy defence minister Lieutenant-General (Retired) Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, will not attend the Singapore Airshow, which starts on Tuesday.
Also giving the airshow a miss are the Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces General Moeldoko; Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Army, General Budiman; and Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Ida Bagus Putu Dunia.
The latest move comes amid a diplomatic row after Indonesia decided to name a Navy ship after the Indonesian marines who bombed an Orchard Road building in 1965, leaving three people dead and 33 people injured.
Singapore’s defence ministry (Mindef) confirmed on Sunday it was informed of the the decision by the top military brass to pull out of the air show.
Its spokesman Kenneth Liow said: “On the Indonesian Air Force’s Jupiter Aerobatic Team, the Indonesian Air Force has not informed us of any changes to their participation.”
When contacted, Brigadier-General Sisriadi Iskandar, head of public communications at the Indonesian Defence Ministry, told The Straits Times that Mr Sjafrie decided not to attend the air show after his Singaporean counterpart, Second Defence Minister Chan Chun Sing, cancelled a planned meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
Mr Sisriadi also said that Singapore cancelled the invitation to the Indonesian navy chief and 100 TNI officers. The cancellation was communicated through the Defence Attache at the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore, he added.
“We understand their concerns, given public opinion in Singapore over recent developments,” he said. “In that light, the deputy minister decided to not take up the invitation to the Singapore Airshow.”
In response to queries on whether the Singapore Armed Forces had rescinded its invitation to the Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Navy and to a group of junior officers from the Indonesian armed forces to attend the air show, Mindef spokesman declined to comment.
When pressed further, the spokesman did not deny rescinding the invitation.
Singapore ministers have weighed in on this issue, voicing their objections to the move. Last Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam registered his concerns with his Indonesian counterpart. This was followed by similar calls made by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen to their Indonesian counterparts.
Mr Chan and Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin have also come out to say that Indonesia’s decision reflected disrespect, callousness and insensitivity.