Indonesian media falls for spoof on PM Lee

Indonesian media outlet Tribun News on Tuesday reported that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong removed Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono from friends list on Facebook (Photo: Screen grab from

Indonesian media outlets fell for a satirical article from the New Nation website which “reported” that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had “unfriended” Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Facebook and “untagged” pictures of himself and the president.

Indonesian media outlet Tribun News, with more than one million "likes" on its Facebook page, ran a report on the incident with the headline: “Singapore Prime Minister removes SBY (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) from friends list on Facebook” on 11 February 2014.

The next day, Harian Terbit, an afternoon newspaper in Indonesia, carried a report on the “broken friendship” between the two on the front page of its newspaper, The Straits Times reported.

Several other Indonesian media outlets such as VivaNews and the website of national newspaper Kompas, were also taken in by the spoof. They later amended their articles and ran corrections.

Others, such as Indonesian website Voaislam, remain unaware of the hoax and ran a commentarysaying that PM Lee’s actions on Facebook "has crossed the boundaries" and called on Indonesians to be brave in standing up to Singapore. 


Singapore and Indonesia have been locked in a dispute in the past week over the Indonesian navy's decision to name a refurbished warship after the two marines who staged a deadly bombing in Singapore in the 1960s.

Read report: Indonesia officials to skip Singapore Airshow amid ship row

The Indonesian warship "KRI Usman Harun" was named after Usman Haji Mohamed Ali and Harun Said, who were executed in Singapore for their actions which killed three people and injured 33.

Indonesia’s foreign minister Marty Natalegawa has since said that no ill will was intended in the naming of the warship.

Below is a Google-translated text of the Tribun News article, which is originally in Bahasa Indonesia:

Tensions between Indonesia and Singapore over the naming controversy of  KRI Usman-Harun have peaked. Reportedly, tensions also have spread to the level of the top leadership of both countries.

Reported by the Singapore media, the New Nation, Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong has blocked the Facebook account of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of friends. In addition to removing SBY as a friend, Lee also cleaned up and removed the tags that show SBY photo in the album collection.

Usman Haji Mohamed Said Ali and Aaron are two soldiers from Corps Operations Command (Marines) Navy, who died after being sentenced to death by the Singapore government on October 17, 1968.

Both were caught after the bombing at MacDonald House in Orchard Road, Singapore, on March 10, 1965 that killed three people and injured 33 people. Singapore considers Usman and Harun terrorists, while Indonesia is assessing both as fallen heroes.

Singapore’s attitude is deemed excessive. Therefore, the TNI chief general Moeldoko refused to attend the Singapore Air Show event that is taking place 11 to 16 February 2014. The reason for his absence is because Singapore cancels invitation to 100 military officers in the event.

To reporters, he said the cancellation of the invitation is a form of discontent over the naming of warship KRI Usman Harun.

TNI Commander naming warship KRI Usman Harun is Indonesian internal affairs of the state and there is no intention of opening old wounds.

“This is our internal issue. Name was specified, there are three ships Bung Tomo, Usman Harun, now issues emerge. Fact is, there is no intention from Indonesia to open old wounds," he said.

Cancellation of invitation to Moeldoko and 100 of his men was seen as a normal thing. He hopes the issue does not continue given the good relations between Singapore and Indonesia that have been established.

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