Thursday, February 13, 2014

Was there not a chain of command?

As a Singaporean, I concur with what foreign minister Shanmugam has said in response to Indonesian FM Natalegawa's statement on the naming of an Indonesian Navy warship after the two marines hanged for planting a bomb in MacDonald House in 1965 that killed three people:



Minister Shanmugam went on to articulate why Singapore stood firm on proceeding with the execution of the two men, despite various appeals for clemency including a high-profile one by the man who all but deposed Sukarno, then General Suharto. As a fledgling small nation-state, Singapore could not appear to bend to pressure from a bigger neighbour which geographical fate determined will always be a bigger neighbour!

So, with the Geneva Convention on our side and with the preparedness to stand up for our precious sovereignty, we did what we did, even if we risked an undetermined period of animosity from Jakarta. The May1973 "closure" was exactly that, or so we thought.

But, now that wounds have been reopened, there is another matter that previously had been left inside Pandora's Box. Yes, the marines slipped in dressed in civvies and hence were not acting as soldiers; and yes, they killed innocent civilians by their action.

But they were carrying out orders, which meant there was a chain of command. Where did the buck ultimately stop? And did any of these senior TNI officers go on to shake the hands of senior SAF officers in military exchanges and even exercises? Will we ever know? Yes, one wishes that the Indonesians had not done something so (fill in the blank) as to name that warship thus.

No comments:

Post a Comment