Friday, February 7, 2014

MacDonald House Bombing 1965 - Konfrontasi

Indonesia intends to name one of three new frigates after the two Marines who was responsible for the MacDonald House Bombing in March 1965 that killed 3 civilians. The two marines were arrested, charged and convicted of murder and executed.

A (link) to Requiem for Usman and Harun.

Feb 06, 2014

A primer on the MacDonald House bombing that shook Singapore in 1965

The front page of The Straits Times on March 11, 1965. -- ST PHOTO

By Ong Sor Fern

The MacDonald House bombing was the worst of a string of attacks by Indonesian saboteurs during Konfrontasi, the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation that happened from 1963 to 1966.

A 25lb (11.33kg) package of nitroglycerine, with a timing device, was planted on the mezzanine floor, near the lifts. At 3.07pm on March 10, 1965, the bomb exploded, tearing a hole in the floor, ripping out a lift door and reducing the correspondence room of the Hongkong And Shanghai Bank "into a shambles" according to a Straits Times report.

The blast was so powerful that all the windows in buildings within a 100m radius as well as the windscreens of vehicles in a carpark across the street were shattered.

Three people died, and 35 people were injured. Elizabeth Suzie Choo Kway Hoi, 36 and mother of six who was private secretary to the manager of the bank, and Juliet Goh Hwee Kuang, 23 and an only child, were killed in the blast. Mr Mohammed Yasin Kesit, 45, remained in a coma and died later in hospital, leaving a widow and eight children.

Two Indonesian marines, Osman Haji Mohammed Ali, 23, and Harun Said, 25, were charged in court on March 16 for the bombing and hung in Changi Jail on Oct 17, 1968. In protest over the hanging, 400 students in Jakarta stormed the Singapore embassy and attacked the consul's residence as well as the homes of two Singaporean diplomats.

Other blogs/posts that you might like:
Naming of Ship - Interesting Posers for Singapore.

Indonesia minister defends move to name warship after marines behind Singapore bombing

By Zakir Hussain, Indonesia Bureau Chief

JAKARTA - A senior Indonesian minister has defended his country's decision to name a new warship after two Indonesian marines behind a 1965 bombing in Singapore.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto said Indonesia had considered the issue "in a mature way" and "there can be no intervention from other countries".

Mr Djoko spoke to Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Thursday afternoon to put across Indonesia's position on the matter, Mr Djoko's deputy Agus Barnas told The Straits Times.

"The Indonesian Navy has the authority and had considered in a mature way the paying of tribute to its heroes, so they are immortalised on a number of Indonesian warships, like the names of other heroes," he said.

"The Indonesian government has its rules, procedures and criteria for determining whether to honour a person as a hero. And in this area, there can be no intervention from other countries," he added.

"The fact that there is a different perception of Indonesian government policy by other countries, in this instance, Singapore, cannot make us backtrack or uncertain about carrying on with our policy decision and implementing it."

Indonesia's Kompas daily had reported this week that the last of the Indonesian Navy's three new British-made frigates would be named the KRI Usman Harun, after marines Osman Haji Mohamed Ali and Harun Said.

They were members of Indonesia's special Operations Corps Command, which is today the Marine Corps, and had been tasked with infiltrating Singapore during Indonesia's Confrontation against Malaysia.

Then-president Sukarno had opposed the formation of Malaysia, which Singapore was part of from September 1963 to August 1965, as a puppet state of the British.

Both marines were convicted and executed in Singapore in 1968 for the March 10, 1965 bombing of MacDonald House, which killed three and injured 33 others.

The marines were given national hero status and a ceremonial funeral at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery in South Jakarta.

On Wednesday night, a spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam had spoken to his Indonesian counterpart, Dr Marty Natalegawa, to register Singapore's concerns over Indonesia's naming a new ship the KRI Usman Harun.

Mr Shanmugam also conveyed Singapore's concern about "the impact this would have on the feelings of Singaporeans, especially the families of the victims".

The comments were widely reproduced by Indonesian media online on Wednesday.

The hanging of the two marines in 1968 saw some 400 agitated students in Jakarta ransack the Singapore embassy, attack the consul's residence and burn the Singapore flag, and bilateral ties remained tense for several years.

Relations were restored when then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew visited Jakarta in 1973, and scattered flowers on their graves.

"Singapore had considered this difficult chapter in the bilateral relationship closed in May 1973 when then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew visited and scattered flowers on the graves of the two marines," the Singapore MFA spokesman had said.

Mr Agus noted the fact that Mr Lee had laid flowers, saying: "There should not be any more problems over this issue."

Other blogs/posts that you might like:
Requiem for Usman & Harun

[And so the Indonesians consider the matter closed.

I want to know what was Konfrontasi officially? Was it WAR? If so would the soldiers be considered enemy combatants and when captured be subject to the Geneva conventions (if it applicable)?

The fact that the two Indonesian Marines were arrested and tried for murder (by bombing) in 1965 in a criminal court instead of being treated as Prisoners of War would indicate that Konfrontasi was not a declared war.

So did Indonesia deny that the two marines were acting on orders? If they admitted that they were acting on military orders, would that be considered an act of war, then?

If so, then the soldiers would be considered prisoners of war. Did the soldiers say that they were acting under orders? Or were they under orders NOT to say that they were acting under orders?

If so, did SG decide that without an official declaration of war, the two soldiers actions would be decided as a criminal justice case?

To be fair to the soldiers, they were obediently carrying out orders. We may forgive them for simply carrying out their orders. NSmen knows what it means to have to carry out orders.

But for Indonesia to honour these men as heroes for doing what can be said to be an act without honour (bombing civilians) is an insult. Moreover, these civilian targets were chosen because the original military targets were too well guarded. So the Indonesians intend to honour soldiers who were unable to carry out their primary mission and ended up selecting a (softer) target of convenience?

Bravo! Yes, that is the "cannot do" spirit of Indonesia - "Aim high, but no need to try too hard."

It is also very auspicious to name your warships after soldiers who were executed.

A response to a comment that these two gave their lives while SG lost lives. Can't we all just get a long? 

 Konfrontasi was not a declared war. Indonesia did not even have the integrity and guts to say what they were going to do and do what they say. They didn't have the integrity and honour to properly declare war before carrying out acts of war.

So in a non-state of war, two soldiers entered SG to bomb military targets. BUT they could not hit their primary military targets because they were too well secured. FAIL.

So instead they targeted civilian soft target. That is an act of TERRORISM. Unarmed. Civilian. Non-combatants. Again, no integrity. No honour. Heroic? What's so heroic about targeting unarmed civilians? What's so heroic about killing women? US soldiers who murdered civilians in the Vietnam war have faced charges of various kinds. Sure, not all of them. Just those that they can prove, and those that can't get away.

These two did not managed to get away. So if it were a military operation during a state of war, they would be Prisoners of War. No. They were tried as criminals. As murderers.

They gave their lives? I'm sorry, they gave nothing. We executed them. We took their dishonourable lives for their dishonourable acts. 

[Editorial amendment: We do not know that they lived dishonourable lives. Only that the bombing was a dishonourable act, carried out against the the Geneva Convention, in the absence of a formal declaration of war. They were soldiers, and soldiers obey orders. Even horrible ones. They acted dishonourably in one instance. It does not make their lives dishonourable.]

Giving their lives would be something heroic like dying to give their comrades a chance to win or survive. Bombing a civilian building? Terrorism. And not even suicide bombers. THAT would be closer to giving their lives.

The best you can say about them is that they were good obedient soldiers. Who when asked to attack civilians did not flinch from their orders.

But heroes? Well, I guess Indonesia is desperately short of people with honour and integrity, These two, will do.

At least, they were not corrupt. As far as we know.

Another comment thread (source of the above).]

1 comment:

Guitar heboh said...

If they were not wearing an proper uniform during the act they can be considered as saboteur / tourism.

and be put on trial not as a combatant.

I guess..

nice article