Indonesia-Singapore relations have never been generally smooth. There are moments of glory, there are moments of gloom. But let us see in brief the points of contention that prevail for the bilateral relation among the two countries.
Majority of the Indonesians will complain the overwhelming control of Singaporean companies on Indonesian economy – take Temasek Holdings, for example, which has significant stakes in our country’s major banks and telecom giants. Or the giant haze caused by, local businesses aside, either Malaysian or Singaporean palm oil companies operating in Sumatra and Borneo. Or the refusal of Singapore’s government to extradite some corruptors who took away tens of billions of dollars during the climactic periods of 1997 Asian financial crisis. Or the fact that Indonesia’s tax-evading money, worth hundreds of billions of dollars, is sitting safely in Singaporean banks.
At the same time, majority of the Singaporeans will gripe much about Indonesia’s massive ‘export’ of haze caused by the fires spreading across the archipelago’s lush forests. Or the country’s wanton, oftentimes capricious, legal enforcement, as many of the tourists may squawk. Or Indonesia’s mistreatment of ethnic minorities, in particular, those of Chinese descent (remember the fact that 75% of Singapore’s population is ethnic Chinese). Or lamentation about some of the Indonesians’ excessive displays of wealth (yeah, I remember one taxi driver said, “you know what? All luxury condos in Orchard Road belong to Chinese Indonesians. Even we Singaporeans could not afford them lah!”)
At this moment, though, grievances aside, another war of words occurs: the Indonesian government’s decision to name a navy ship based on two mariners executed for a 1965 bombing in the city-state’s business district – conducted during the heightened tensions between Indonesia and Malaysia (or known as Konfrontasi), where Singapore was still part of the latter – has sent the latter down their deep resentment.
What exactly happened in the bombing? Read the full article on Wikipedia to find out the answer.
Bonus: to get even more insight, you can read the complete archive of the bombing report on Singapore’s National Library.