S'pore, Indonesia in row over marines dressed as bombers

S'pore, Indonesia in row over marines dressed as bombers

SINGAPORE - A fresh diplomatic row has erupted between Singapore and Indonesia over a 1965 bombing in the city-state, after the Indonesian navy dressed two marines as the perpetrators at a defence exhibition.

Singapore is "concerned and disappointed" after the two men appeared at the event in Jakarta this week dressed as Indonesian marines Usman Haji Mohamed Ali and Harun Said, who were executed for the bombing, the foreign ministry said in a statement late Thursday.

Three people were killed and 33 others injured in the bombing of MacDonald House, downtown Singapore, in March 1965.

The attack was part of efforts by then Indonesian president Sukarno to stage an armed confrontation against the newly formed federation of Malaysia, which included Singapore. The two marines had been ordered to infiltrate Singapore and carry out the attack.

Indonesian Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro told reporters on Friday in Jakarta the stunt was "clearly inappropriate".

"We have asked the navy to look into this and investigate who has done this," he added.

But navy spokesman Untung Suropati, speaking to AFP earlier Friday, described the two marines as "heroes" who should serve as role models for young Indonesians.

"Usman and Harun are our heroes, and it was an international expo with a young generation of the military and students visiting," he told AFP in Jakarta.

"We need to show them we have great heroes in the hope that they can be role models for them."

A hit with visitors

He added that when the navy designed the booth, they were not aware that Singapore would be attending the conference.

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