Naming of frigate 'not linked to recent developments'

INDONESIA'S armed forces chief Moeldoko said the decision to name a new frigate the KRI Usman Harun was made in December 2012, and had nothing to do with recent developments.

The naming was publicised more widely this year and the Kompas daily reported on it last week. The report sparked concerns from Singapore, which views the two marines - Osman Mohamed Ali and Harun Said - after whom the ship is named, as terrorists for bombing MacDonald House in Orchard Road in 1965.

Indonesia's naming of the ship sparked speculation that it was deliberate or timed ahead of this year's elections.

"We agreed on the name on Dec 12, 2012, after long discussions. There is no correlation with recent developments," General Moeldoko told reporters in Parliament.

"The naming is not intended to stir emotions."

He also said others had a right to take issue with the ship's name, but stressed that it would not change.

"Osman and Harun are Indonesian marines who have been named national heroes. I cannot accept them as terrorists. They are state actors," he said, echoing a view widely held in Indonesia.

The MacDonald House bombing was the worst of 42 explosions in Singapore by Indonesian saboteurs during the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation from 1963 to 1966.

Indonesia's then President Sukarno had opposed the formation of Malaysia, which included Singapore. Leaders in Singapore have said that the two men were not heroes as they carried out attacks that targeted innocent civilians.

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