Indonesian military chief says 'no apology over ship'

Indonesian military chief says 'no apology over ship'

Indonesia's Armed Forces Commander, General Moeldoko, has said he did not apologise over the naming of a new navy frigate - the KRI Usman Harun - after two Indonesian marines behind a 1965 bombing in Singapore.

Gen Moeldoko told reporters yesterday that the "apology", made in an interview with Channel NewsAsia (CNA) broadcast on Tuesday, was misinterpreted.

"Saying sorry that the naming of the Usman Harun is our final decision does not mean saying sorry. If things are twisted, that's normal for reporters," he said.

"There was no apology. What I meant was: 'Sorry, the naming of the Usman Harun is our final decision'."

His latest remarks, made to reporters at the Istana ahead of a Cabinet meeting, came as several Indonesian MPs and observers criticised him for saying sorry during the interview. They said it harmed Indonesia's dignity and insulted the memory of marines Osman Mohamed Ali and Harun Said.

MP Susaningtyas Kertopati of Parliament's defence committee said the military chief should not have been so quick to apologise to a neighbour.

University of Indonesia international law professor Hikmahanto Juwana called on Gen Moeldoko to clarify his comments, "so that the Indonesian public will not feel betrayed".

Gen Moeldoko had told CNA: "Our decision is to stick to the name, and once again I apologise, we have no ill intent whatsoever to stir emotions. Not at all."

Not long after the interview was aired, a link was posted on Gen Moeldoko's official Facebook page with the explanation: "We apologise over the naming of the ship 'Usman Harun' if Singapore feels hurt, but as a sovereign nation, Indonesia sticks by its decision and will not change the name of the ship. On this matter, both countries have been in constant communication."

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