SINGAPORE: Some 48 hours after his interview with Channel NewsAsia aired on Tuesday, the head of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) has clarified an apology he made during the interview.
General Moeldoko said on Thursday that he had not apologised to the Singapore government for the naming of a warship after two Indonesian marines who bombed MacDonald House in Singapore in 1965.
Instead, he clarified that he was expressing his regret that the naming decision was final and would not be changed.
On Tuesday night, Channel NewsAsia aired an exclusive interview with General Moeldoko, during which he touched on the relations between Singapore and Indonesia, among other issues.
He was asked by Channel NewsAsia senior Southeast Asia correspondent Sujadi Siswo about the decision to name a warship Usman Harun after the two Indonesian marines, and the ties between the two countries.
"Once again I apologise. We have no ill intent whatsoever to stir emotions. Not at all. Second, relations between the two countries are on the mend. There've been communications among leaders. Singapore's Chief of Defence and I have spoken," General Moeldoko had said.
Following the airing of the interview, General Moeldoko posted a link to the Channel NewsAsia story on his own Facebook page. There was, however, a mixed reaction. He was questioned by some Indonesians as to why he had apologised.
These posts have since been removed from General Moeldoko's Facebook page.
On Wednesday, Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen welcomed General Moeldoko's comments, and said the Singapore Armed Forces will resume bilateral cooperation with the TNI.
Earlier Thursday, General Moeldoko spoke to Indonesian media at the President's Office in Jakarta before a Cabinet session to clarify his views. He said that the apology had been for the fact that the decision to name the ship was final and would not be changed.
The head of TNI's public affairs had also written to Channel NewsAsia, citing the right of reply to clarify the comments by the TNI chief so that there would be "no misinterpretation and misperception."
Echoing General Moeldoko's comments to the Indonesian media, the public affairs head said that "the TNI Commander was expressing his regrets that the naming was final and would not change."
The letter was copied to the chiefs of staff of the Indonesian Army, Navy, Air Force, and the head of TNI Intelligence. - CNA/ac