MacDonald House bombing

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The MacDonald House bombing occurred on 10 March 1965, at the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank building (now known as MacDonald House) along Orchard Road of Singapore, which was then part of Malaysia. The time bomb was planted by a duo of Indonesian saboteurs, during the period of Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation (also known as Konfrontasi). The explosion killed three people and injured at least 33 others.[1]

During the Indonesian Konfrontasi where Indonesia openly opposed the formation of Malaysia, Indonesian saboteurs mounted a campaign of terror in Singapore. They were trained to attack military installations and public utilities. However, when the saboteurs failed in their attempts to attack these installations that were heavily guarded, they set off bombs indiscriminately to create panic and disrupt life on the island. By 1964, bomb explosions became frequent. To help the police and army defend Singapore from these bomb attacks, a volunteer force was set up. More than 10000 people signed up as volunteers. Community Centres served as bases for the volunteers to patrol their neighbourhoods. In schools, students underwent bomb drills. The government also warned Singaporeans not to handle any suspicious-looking parcels in the buildings or along streets. Despite the efforts of the British, small groups of saboteurs managed to infiltrate the island and plant bombs. By March 1965, a total of 29 bombs had been set off in Singapore.

The 10 March 1965 bombing of the MacDonald House was the most serious of the spate of bombings in Singapore, when a bomb exploded at 3:07pm at the 10-storey building. The bomb killed three people, two were employees of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, Elizabeth Suzie Choo, 36, a secretary and Juliet Goh, 23, a clerk. The third victim, Mohammed Yasin Kesit, 45, a driver, slipped into a coma after the blast, and did not come out of it. Thirty-three other people were injured. At the time of the bombing, the building had also housed the Australian High Commission and the Japanese Consulate.[1][2]

Within four days, Singaporean police arrested two Indonesian marines, Harun Said (then 21) and Osman Mohamed Ali (then 23) for the bombing. The two saboteurs had arrived in Singapore from Java at 11am on that fateful day, wearing civilian clothes. They had been instructed to bomb an electric power house but instead headed to MacDonald House. As they were in civilian clothes and had targeted a civilian building, the men were tried in Singapore for the murder of the three people who died in the blast. They were convicted of murder and hanged in 1968.[2][3] In the meantime, Singapore had seceded from Malaysia on 9 August 1965, just five months after the bombing.

In 2014, Indonesia named a Nakhoda Ragam-class corvette warship (KRI Usman-Harun) after the two hanged commandos, worsening bilateral ties between Indonesia and Singapore.[4] In response, Singapore banned the warship from its ports and naval bases.[5]


  1. ^ a b Jackie Sam, Philip Khoo, Cheong Yip Seng, Abul Fazil, Roderick Pestana and Gabriel Lee (11 March 1965). "Terror Bomb kills 2 Girls at Bank" (reprint). The Straits Times. 
  2. ^ a b Nirmala, M. "MacDonald House attack still strikes home in S'pore". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 8 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Singapore from Settlement to Nation Pre-1819 to 1971 (6th ed.). Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Education. pp. 196–197. 
  4. ^ Cheney-Peters, Scott (19 February 2014). "Troubled Waters: Indonesia’s Growing Maritime Disputes". The Diplomat. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  5. ^ Jaipragas, Bhavan. "Singapore bans disputed Indonesian navy ship". Agence France-Presse. 
  • Brazil, David. Insider's Singapore. Singapore: Times Books International, 2001.