By Trinity Chua and Nicole Chang
The Indonesian ship-naming affair has ruffled the feathers of Singapore’s leaders, but many Singaporeans can’t even remember the names of the two MacDonald House bombers, whose names have been given to the Jakarta navy frigate.
A 100-people poll by The Independent Singapore showed that 83 people have no idea who Usman Mohamed Ali and Harun Said are.
Worse, their answers were ridiculously hilarious.
Before that, here’s a quick peek into history: In 1965, these two Indonesian marines bombed the MacDonald House on Orchard Road, killing three civilians and injuring another 33.They were executed here. In February, Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen said Indonesia’s move to name a new frigate after the two bombers would reopen old wounds in Singaporeans.
The Independent Singapore’s poll was conducted this week at Hougang, Tai Seng, Dhoby Ghaut, Toa Payoh, Raffles Places, Commonwealth Avenue, Bishan, Holland Village and Orchard Road. The respondents’ ages varied from 16 to 80.
They were shown the names of the marines on a piece of paper and asked if they knew who they are. Though not everyone commented, some of their comments can only provoke laughter.
“Go upstairs to ask customer service, they will direct you to them,” said a respondent in a Tan Tock Seng Hospital uniform at the Toa Payoh MRT station.
“Are you looking for one of our drivers? Let me go check for you,” said a SBS Transit office staff member at the Bishan bus interchange.
“Oh, she is the maid here, right? I think she is the maid of someone in my block,” said Mrs Ang, a 60-year-old retiree, when we caught her during her morning walk in Hougang.
“I think he is a boxer. Mohamed Ali, I saw him on television. You do not know him?” said a 21-year-old student, Winnie ,at the Holland Village MRT station.
“I do not read Malay names,” said Mr Han, 80, at the Bishan MRT station. He spoke in Mandarin.
But 17 of those polled remembered the marines.
Janna, 21, a SIM University student, remarked: “It happened in the 1950s, I think. Most Singaporeans would not care for something that happened so long ago.”
Mr Andy, 31, an engineer said: “[The government’s response] was after the event, they did not prevent the naming of the ship.”