Shanmugam: ‘Helpful And Constructive’ comments

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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The Foreign Minister K Shanmugam has welcomed the comments of his Indonesian counterpart, saying they are helpful and constructive. Speaking to media, he said that the comments made by Dr Marty Natalegawa were helpful. Natalegawa had said on Tuesday that there had been no ill-will or malice intended in naming an Indonesian warship after two marines who had bombed a Singapore building in 1965, killing three civilians.

‘He has made clear that there was no ill-will or malice intended. That is very constructive. We welcome his comments.’ Shanmugam said it is important for us to understand that Indonesia is not honoring the marines for killing Singaporeans but for doing the best for their country. ‘It is also important that it is understood and acknowledged (by Indonesia) that the naming of the ships impacts on us, and impacts on our sensitivities.” He said it was just last week that Singapore found out that a warship was going to be named “Usman Harun” after the two marines. Further he added that although its Indonesia’s right to name the warship, they should keep in mind the impact it would have on other countries.

‘This is therefore an area where Indonesia’s sovereign right to name a warship intersects with a part of our mutual history, and Singaporeans and Indonesians’ mutual decision to put that history behind us. And there has to be that sensitivity on the part of both countries to make sure it is behind us, and not reopen it. That is why we have asked Indonesia to consider renaming the warships. It is one thing to name a building in Indonesia, or bury them in the Heroes’ Cemetery, it is quite another to name a warship. The signal is very different because a ship sails seven seas, carrying that message to every land the ship goes… to, as it carries that nation’s flag.’

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