The govt missed the opportunity to kick the Indonesian govt in the balls. It could have made the Indon govt look stupid and crass internationally. S’poreans (govt* and all the commentators bar one Voice, see below) are behaving like frogs in a well in their reaction to the Indonesian brazenness over the naming a naval vessel after two “heroes” who killed S’porean civilians in the 1960s.
Seriously, the issue is bigger than our sensitivities about the Indonesian govt’s view that we are a Little Red Speck that it can trod on or push around like East Timor or West Papua.
It’s about whether Indonesia views attacks against civilians as a legitimate military tactic, contrary to the rules of war, Even the hegemon accepts that killing civilians is wrong even if its drones keep killing civilians (“Accident leh. Not on purpose”). So the US and the int’l community should want to know if Indonesia views killing civilians as a legitimate military tactic. The behaviour of Indonesia’s armed forces in Acheh, Sulawesi, West Papua and East Timor provides evidence that the military (at least) condones the killing of innocent civilians.
Taking a step further does Indonesia implicitly or covertly condone terrorism as a legitimate response to grievances (legtimate or otherwise)? S’pore should be asking the US and the int’l community to ask Indonesia. After all, Indonesia considers the two men who killed innocent civilians “heroes”. Isn’t this glorifying and condoning terrorism which is the killing of innocent civilians to publicise or further a cause? Even North Korea who has engaged in terrorist attacks against airliners and in third countries (such as Burma in 1983) doesn’t go round naming warships after the “killers”.
I’m bullish about Indonesia’s economic prospects but I’m not blind to the flaws in Indonesian governance. I’ve written: The Indonesian army has form in bullying its people and invading neighbours: Aceh, Sulawesi, East Timor, West Papua, Malaysia. Remember the Indonesian army planted bombs here in the 1960s?
Other instances of bad Indonesian behaviour
The above musings was “triggered” by this letter to Voices:
Published: 13 February, 4:04 AM
I refer to the report “Jakarta ‘meant no ill will’ in naming of frigate” (Feb 12). The issue is not merely about bilateral relations per se.
Indonesia’s decision to name a ship after the MacDonald House bombers sends a confusing signal about its stand on terrorism.
The bombing was done in a civilian area, killing civilians, and the world is clear that such bombings, including suicide bombings, are acts of terrorism. So, what is Indonesia’s stand on the Bali bombers?
There is a saying that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, which I believe holds only when one considers the other as an enemy.
Now that Indonesia has clarified that there is no enmity between our two countries, it must clarify its stand on terrorism and its criteria for defining heroes, so as not to reinforce a few of its citizens’ wrong perception that Jemaah Islamiyah members are heroes.
Update at 5.00am
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.
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 report)
*Actually the govt’s behaviour was measured but two ministers who were paper generals spoiled the gravitas that Shan and MFA pitched the issue at with their comments. Kee Chui and MoM Tan should have sat down and shut up. but one assumes they wanted to how lien their patriotism, if not their stupidity and crudeness. They came across as the Indonesian generals do: paper tigers. Maybe they practising to be like Indonesian ministers: talk cock, sing song clowns? LKY would be appalled.