Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Ghosts (updated 4 Jan 2015)

2014 had several low points.

For Malaysia it was the plane crashes, including Air Asia QZ8501 (technically it was Indonesia Air Asia but MY Air Asia has a 49% share of it, and the "Air Asia" brand is synonymous with Malaysia.)

For Indonesia, there was some haze, but the beef we had with them was the TNI's naming of the KRI Usman Harun.

The matter was "resolved" in the sense that SG conceded that it was Indonesia's right to name their ship as they liked, but SG will not participate in any exercise with the KRI Usman Harun, and the ship will never be welcome in SG.

Fast forward 9 - 10 months. QZ8501 disappears enroute from Surabaya to Singapore.

Surabaya. Where I believe the KRI Usman Harun is now based.

And Singapore has offered vessels and aircraft to help with the SAR for the QZ8501.

What if the Indonesia SAR vessels includes the KRI Usman Harun?

Not a problem if they are searching in another sector and does not have any contact with the SG searchers.

But what if some mischievous Indonesian (and there are some) decides to put them together, just as some one had the brilliant idea of dressing up Indonesian Marines as Usman and Harun at the Jakarta International Defence Dialogue?

What should SG do?

Two possibilities.

SG has always said what we'll do and do what we said we'll do. In line with this principle, we should pull out our resources immediately.

BUT... it is a mission of mercy and should we stand on principle and seem to be petty?

I think we should stand firm on principle and request that the KRI Usman Harun be redeployed (or SG assets be redeployed away from the KRI U.H.)

Failure to accede to our request will lead to SG pulling it's resources out of the SAR mission.

SG's participation is not critical to the SAR, and if Indonesia chooses to pair the KRI U.H. with SG assets, it is they who are trying to be funny.

And it would serve their purpose to try to make SG seem petty.

So I say, if this happens, pull out our assets. However, I am also aware that there is the element of the mission of mercy to consider, whether SG's image is more damaged by being seen as "petty" or being seen as "pushover".

Should the issue arises, I leave it to those responsible to make the decision. And it will be a controversial decision whatever they decide.

[Jan 4 update:

Indonesia deploys controversial KRI Usman Harun for AirAsia plane search

SINGAPORE: Indonesia on Sunday (Jan 4) deployed the controversial KRI Usman Harun to aid in the search for the missing AirAsia QZ8501 plane, as it is equipped with advanced underwater sonar capabilities, according to Indonesia's Metro TV and Republika.

Both media outlets reported that the Bung Tomo-class corvette was deployed on Sunday, with Republika adding that it was equipped with the Thales Underwater Systems TMS 4130C1 hull-mounted sonar.

The naming of the ship after the MacDonald House bombers, Usman Mohamed Ali and Harun Said, caused tensions between Singapore and Indonesia in February last year, with the Singapore Government sending a Third Person Note, which is a formal diplomatic note, to its Indonesian counterparts to register its regret.

Three people were killed and 33 others injured when the two Indonesian marines bombed the building in 1965. The two marines were subsequently found guilty and hanged in 1968, despite the intervention of then Indonesian president Suharto.]

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