Series of explosions in Singapore

Why is Singapore so concerned over Indonesia's naming of a navy ship? The Straits Times recounts the events at the time of Konfrontasi and what it means for relations between the two countries. Series of explosions in Singapore

"KONFRONTASI" or confrontation refers to the period between January 1963 and August 1966 when Indonesia used military, economic and diplomatic means to break up the newly formed Federation of Malaysia of which Singapore was a part.

Indonesia broke off ties with Malaysia and went on to instigate its nationals to infiltrate and sabotage key installations in Malaysia and Singapore.

One attack carried out in Singapore was on March 10, 1965, at 3.07pm, when a bomb exploded at MacDonald House, Orchard Road's tallest building at that time. A lift door was blown off. Windows of buildings 100m away were shattered, as were windscreens of cars across the road.

Three people died and 33 were injured. Two Indonesian marines, Harun Said and Osman Mohamed Ali, were caught, tried and hanged for murder.

Other incidents included an explosion on April 13, 1964, which caused extensive damage at 21 Jalan Rebong off Changi Road, killing a woman and her daughter and injuring six.

Three days later, on April 16, another explosion completely wrecked a telephone booth at the junction of Jalan Betek, Jalan Timun and Jalan Badarah. Four men and a woman were injured.

Indonesian saboteurs are reported to have caused at least 42 explosions in Singapore from September 1963 to May 1965. In August 1966, Konfrontasi ended with the signing of a peace treaty between Malaysia and Indonesia. The toll in Singapore: seven killed and more than 51 others injured.

Coming as it did soon after the racial riots in July 1964, the bombing of MacDonald House cast a dark shadow over the fledging country's future, a situation made worse after the island was expelled from the Malaysian federation in 1965.

Independent Singapore, however, went on to become a successful city.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa on the current row with Singapore over the naming of an Indonesian warship.


What I am addressing now is the basic message that no ill intent, no ill will and no malice is intended. It is just one of those things. It has happened, let's quickly move on; we want to get it behind us.


It is in our strategic interest to have very close and friendly relations with all of our neighbours. But this is the reality of modern-day international relations - the sources of complications may be multi-faceted.


We have received a note from the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I believe it was (sent) yesterday, and it explained Singapore's position, especially its concerns. It simply puts on paper what had been registered verbally or orally as well.


The key challenge for us is not to allow the matter to define what Indonesia-Singapore relations are.

Some may want to portray Indonesia as a country that is trying to throw its weight around, in terms of its defence outlook and posture, but that is certainly not the case.

We do not feel threatened by Singapore because we know it is not in Singapore's DNA to look at Indonesia as a foe. For Indonesia, we do not look at Singapore as a party with whom we have any ill intent or threats emanating from. It is more about how we manage misunderstandings. So I am keen to project this message that no malice is intended and we should move forward.

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