S'pore cancels invites to Indonesian officers

A TOP Indonesian naval officer and other military staff have been told that their invitations to the Singapore Airshow had been cancelled.

Indonesia's Defence Ministry's public communications head Sisriadi Iskandar said Singapore had pulled the invitation to Indonesian navy chief Marsetio and 100 Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) officers last Saturday.

The move comes amid a diplomatic row following Jakarta's decision to name a navy ship after the Indonesian marines who bombed an Orchard Road building, MacDonald House, in 1965 that left three dead and 33 hurt.

Brigadier-General Sisriadi also said Indonesian Deputy Defence Minister Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin decided not to come to Singapore after his counterpart, Second Defence Minister Chan Chun Sing, cancelled their meeting due to take place yesterday. But sources said it was rescheduled.

TNI chief Moeldoko, army chief Budiman and air force chief Ida Bagus Putu Dunia have also cancelled plans to attend.

Mr Sisriadi said: "We understand their concerns, given public opinion in Singapore over recent developments... the deputy minister decided not to take up the invitation."

The cancellation was communicated through the Defence Attache at the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore, he added.

TNI spokesman Iskandar Sitompul also confirmed the no-show by the TNI chief and his service chiefs. "This is unfortunate because relations between our two militaries all this while have been strong, whether in joint training, visits or education."

Singapore's Defence Ministry confirmed on Monday that it was informed of the decision by the top defence and military officials to skip the six-day event.

In response to queries on whether the Singapore Armed Forces had rescinded invitations to the Indonesian navy chief and TNI officials, Colonel Kenneth Liow declined to comment, but did not deny they had been cancelled.

There were some initial confusion on whether TNI's aerial display team The Jupiter, which was invited to perform, will be recalled or continue to fly.

Col Liow said: "On the Indonesian Air Force's The Jupiter aerobatics team, the Indonesian Air Force has not informed us of any changes to their participation."

The Jupiter's team leader Anwar Sovie said: "We have not received orders not to perform in the Singapore Airshow... So far we are still on (the) main plan."



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