Indonesia 'regrets' lookalike marines act

Indonesia 'regrets' lookalike marines act
Indonesian soldiers posing for photos with the lookalikes of marines Usman and Harun - who were convicted and executed in Singapore in 1968 - at the Jakarta International Defence Dialogue exhibition on Wednesday.

JAKARTA - Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Mr Djoko Suyanto, has telephoned Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean to express regret over the incident in which two Indonesian marines posed as the MacDonald House bombers at an international defence conference in Jakarta last week.

Mr Djoko expressed regret over the inappropriate conduct by the soldiers, and assured Mr Teo that there was no such policy to do this, Mr Teo's office said last Friday in reply to media queries.

Indonesian Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro also telephoned Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen last Friday afternoon to express the same views.

Dr Purnomo added that the Indonesian navy chief, Admiral Marsetio, had launched investigations to determine who was responsible for this inappropriate act, Mr Teo's office said.

"Both DPM Teo and Dr Ng thanked their counterparts for this important clarification," his office added.

"They reiterated that the naming of the ship had reopened old wounds because innocent Singaporeans were killed and injured in the bombing, and said that it would be helpful if this were recognised."

This development came as Dr Purnomo told reporters that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had demanded to know who made the decision to get two lookalikes to pose as the marines at the Jakarta International Defence Dialogue.

Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) spokesman Brigadier-General Sisriadi added in a statement that the incident "should not have happened".

"It is deeply regrettable and counter-productive to the aims of the multilateral dialogue attended by delegates from 46 countries," he said.

A Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesman on Thursday night expressed concern and disappointment over the incident, saying it happened at "an international event to which Singapore was invited as a guest".

The two lookalikes had worn marine uniforms from the 1960s with "Usman" and "Harun" on the badges, after Osman Mohamed Ali and Harun Said, the Indonesian marines who were convicted and executed in Singapore in 1968 for the bombing that left three civilians dead and injured 33 others.

The duo were declared heroes by their country and given a military burial at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery.

The attack happened during Konfrontasi, when then President Sukarno sent armed men to infiltrate newly formed Malaysia, of which Singapore was a part.

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