SINGAPORE: Singapore will not allow the Indonesian warship, named after the MacDonald House bombers, to call at its ports and naval bases.
Nor would the Singapore Armed Forces carry out military exercises with the ship.
Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen said this in Parliament on Tuesday, in response to questions fielded on the government's response to the naming of the warship.
The period of Konfrontasi, between 1963 and 1965, was a violent chapter in Singapore's history.
This was when Indonesia launched an "undeclared war" to oppose the creation of Malaysia, which included Singapore.
But it was the MacDonald House bombing by two Indonesian Marines in 1965 that sealed the memory of the dark period for Singaporeans.
Three people were killed, and 33 others injured.
The two Marines, Usman Mohamed Ali and Harun Said, were found guilty and hanged in 1968.
Despite pleas for clemency from then Indonesian President Suharto, Singapore went ahead with the hanging.
Minister for Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam said that was a defining moment for the nation.
"Had we agreed to release them, it would have set the precedent for our relationships with all bigger countries. That we will - or we should - do what a bigger country asks and pressures us to do even when we have been grievously hurt. That is a different concept of sovereignty that is not good for us, which we cannot accept," he said.
Relations between the two countries were tense until then Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew visited Indonesia in 1973, and scattered flowers on the graves of the two marines.
Both countries considered the matter closed, so Dr Ng said it came as an "utter surprise" when Indonesia decided to name one of its warships after the two marines, nearly 50 years later.
Dr Ng said: "A ship named "Usman Harun" sailing on the high seas would unearth all the pain and sorrow caused by the MacDonald House bomb blast, which had been buried and put to rest. Singapore will not allow this military ship named "Usman Harun" to call at our ports and naval bases. It would not be possible for the SAF, as protectors of this nation, to sail alongside or exercise with this ship."
Dr Ng said bilateral defence ties between the two countries have grown since 1974.
He cited examples of how Indonesia went all out in search and rescue operations when the SilkAir Flight MI185 crashed in Palembang in 1997. And the Singapore Armed Forces were the first on the ground to help Indonesia during the 2004 Tsunami.
But this incident has set ties back.
Dr Ng said: "We want good bilateral military relations and we have to take it from there - to rebuild the mutual regard, the mutual respect that we've taken 40 years to reach here. It has set us back and I would say that over the next period we will see what we can do to rebuild ties, but it also depends on what both parties do."
Mr Zaqy Mohamad, MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC, asked: "How is MFA prepared to deal with such tests of potential provocation from bigger countries willing to test Singapore as a young and small nation?"
Mr Shanmugam said: "As we go forward, we must fully expect that others who progress will indeed seek to move us and our policies towards that direction. It's not just the region but beyond the region. Everyone. And to deal with that, you need to look at it on three levels. At the core, our defence has to be top rate. If we cannot protect ourselves, nothing else matters.
"Beyond that, you need to make sure that your regional relationships both bilaterally as well as multilaterally, through organisations like ASEAN, (are) strong. So that you can deal with issues both diplomatically, both bilaterally, as well as through regional platforms which help move everyone along.
"Thirdly, at the larger level, you do need therefore, a very strong network of international partners beyond the region."
To survive in such a climate, Mr Shanmugam said, it's also about ensuring Singapore is successful economically, socially and in defence. - Channel News Asia