Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen has said Singapore and Indonesia have to find ways to move beyond the incident involving the naming of a new frigate after two marines responsible for a bombing in Orchard Road in 1965.
SINGAPORE: Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen has said Singapore and Indonesia have to find ways to move beyond the incident involving the naming of a new frigate after two marines responsible for a bombing in Orchard Road in 1965.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a community event on Sunday, Dr Ng said both countries have to mend and repair ties which have been affected by the incident.
Dr Ng was responding to recent clarifications by Indonesia's armed forces commander, General Moeldoko, after he had apologised about the incident in an earlier interview with Channel NewsAsia.
Dr Ng reiterated that Singapore wants good relations with Indonesia.
As neighbours, both countries benefit much when relations with each other are good.
He said the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will work with the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) to improve relations.
Dr Ng said: "We have to find ways to move beyond this incident, and to mend, and to repair ties which have been affected, and I believe, and I'm confident, that if we treat each other with mutual respect and regard, we can regain the trust and confidence between the SAF and the TNI which we built up over many decades."
In 1965, Indonesian marines Usman Mohamed Ali and Harun Said bombed the MacDonald House, killing three civilians.
In February this year, it was reported that Indonesia would name a frigate after them.
Singapore had said the move would reopen old wounds.
On Tuesday, Indonesia's armed forces commander, General Moeldoko, apologised over the naming of the frigate, saying there was no ill intent to stir emotions.
However, two days later General Moeldoko clarified that his apology was misinterpreted.
General Moeldoko's earlier apology was criticised by several Indonesian Members of Parliament and observers. They said it harmed Indonesia's dignity and insulted the memory of the marines.
Dr Ng said it is not productive to get involved in Indonesia's domestic politics.
Dr Ng said: "We accept his words on camera at face value, that as I've said, they have acknowledged that they stirred up emotions, as we have said reopened old wounds. They regret that emotions have been stirred, they meant no ill intent. I think we take that at face value."
Dr Ng said he understood that some Singaporeans are perplexed and upset over General Moeldoko's clarification of his initial apology.
"Sometimes, we may not fully understand the ways of others, but as long as we continue our own stand, and others understand us, I believe that is a very strong basis for us to build relationship with others. So, in other words, focus on our own, what we want to do, what we believe in, what we stand for, and maintain that. I think when you do that others will treat you with respect," he said.
Dr Ng said there is no magic formula on how to mend ties between Singapore and Indonesia. He said both countries have to spend effort and use opportunities to build up ties.