Indonesia said Friday it is investigating two of its marines who wore uniforms with badges with the names of two bombers involved in a deadly 1965 attack in Singapore during an international defense expo on Wednesday, provoking the Singapore delegation to withdraw participation from a parallel event.
The Singapore delegation immediately pulled out of the Jakarta International Defense Dialogue after the two Indonesian marines were seen wearing badges reading Usman and Harun on what appeared to be 1960s-style uniforms, at the expo on Wednesday. They were posed in front of a new warship KRI named Usman Harun.
Indonesian marines Usman Haji Mohamed Ali and Harun Said took part in the bombing of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank building in Singapore in 1965, which killed three people and injured 33 others.
They were hanged as terrorists in the city-state in 1968 for their role in the bombing. In Indonesia, they have been regarded as heroes who acted on an order by the government amid regional confrontation.
"The incident was very much regretted," the Indonesian Defense Ministry said in a press statement, referring to the two marines. He described it as counterproductive with the objective of multilateral defense dialogue.
Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro "has instructed related parties to investigate the perpetrators and the motive behind their action," it added.
On Thursday, the Singaporean Foreign Ministry expressed disappointment over the incident in a press statement, saying the Singapore Air Force's delegation withdrew from the event after learning of the incident.
Last month, the Indonesian navy announced it will receive three new British-made frigates this year and name one of them after the two marines who attacked the historical building, which is now known as MacDonald House. It then housed the Australian High Commission and the Japanese consulate.
The two marines had been ordered by Jakarta to infiltrate Singapore during Indonesia's confrontation with Malaysia in the 1960s, at which time Indonesian President Sukarno opposed the merger of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore into the Federation of Malaysia, which he viewed as a British puppet state.