BATAM TOLD TO RETHINK PLAN TO BUILD USMAN, HARUN STATUE

SINGAPORE: Riau Islands Governor Muhammad Sani has told the Batam chapter of the Indonesian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) to reconsider its plan to build a statue in honour of former Marines Usman and Harun to prevent further friction with Singapore.

Singapore had reacted strongly to Indonesia's recent move to name a warship after the two Marines who carried out the bombing of MacDonald House in Singapore in 1965.

"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.

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Mr Sani said that Batam Kadin should bear in mind that Batam is a stone's throw away from Singapore.

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

The building of the statue is subject to approval from the Batam Free Trade Zone Management Agency.

A spokesman for the agency has cited several factors it needs to consider before granting a permit -- aesthetics, maintaining good relations and Batam's location -- noting that many Singaporean businessmen invest in Batam.

A Batam resident who goes by only one name, Parulian, warned: "What if Singaporeans pull their investment?"

- CNA/ir

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