JAKARTA - Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Moeldoko says that the Singaporean authorities have officially asked for permission to have two Indonesian nationals join the city-state's military force.
"My friend [chief of defence force of the Singapore Armed Forces] Lt. Gen. [Ng] Chee Meng has called me and asked the TNI chief to let go of the two soldiers," Moeldoko said, as quoted by tribunnews.com on Thursday.
Moeldoko said that it would take a serious diplomatic effort before the two individuals could be handed over.
"It should not be too easy [to let them go] [...] if this happens again in the future we will take stern measures," Moeldoko said.
Two Indonesian citizens, identified by their initials CJH and AJ, who hold permanent resident status in Singapore were deported to the city-state after their status was discovered during a joint military training operation being conducted by the two countries in Magelang, Central Java.
The two officers were removed from the training programme after the discovery as the 2006 Citizenship Law bans Indonesian citizens from enlisting in foreign military forces or joining a country that is moving toward or is already at war with Indonesia.
TNI spokesman Maj. Gen. M. Fuad Basya said the two officers were immediately deported after the TNI reported the findings to the Foreign Ministry, the Law and Human Rights Ministry and the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Ministry.
But Fuad refused to comment on whether the government should revoke the citizenship of the two officers.
"The TNI will let the Law and Human Rights Ministry decide their fate," said Fuad on Wednesday.
Indonesia and Singapore were at loggerheads earlier this year, following the decision by Jakarta to name a warship after two Indonesian marines, Usman Haji Mohamed Ali and Harun Said, who bombed a civilian Singaporean target in 1965.
Meanwhile, the local military commander in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, reported that there had been an exodus of locals from three villages across the border into Malaysian territory.
Chief of Samarinda military command Brig. Gen. Nono Suharsono said that locals from three villages in newly-formed North Kalimantan province had left their homes to stay temporarily in Malaysia.
"They moved across the border for economic reasons. They are working on plots of customary land that they control," Nono said, as quoted by Antara news wire.
Nono said that such exoduses had taken place in the past and would likely continue in the future, especially when the area experiences a long dry spell.
"It has happened in 1965 and on a larger scale also occurred in 1984 and 1985," Nono said.