Tuesday, January 12, 2010


The Indonesia Malaysia confrontation (also known as Konfrontasi in Indonesian and Malay) was an undeclared war over the future of the island of Borneo, between British-backed Malaysia and Indonesia ...

The Indonesia Malaysia confrontation (also known as Konfrontasi in Indonesian and Malay) was an undeclared war over the future of the island of Borneo, between British-backed Malaysia and Indonesia during 19621966. The origins of the conflict lay in Indonesian attempts to destabilise the new Federation of Malaysia, which came into being in 1963. Malaya had gained its independence from Britain in 1957 and its leader, Tunku Abdul Rahman, was the prime-mover behind the federation of the states of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore into the federation of Malaysia. Singapore was expelled from the federation in 1965 and became independent.

On 20 January 1963, Indonesian Foreign Minister Subandrio announced that Indonesia would pursue a policy of Konfrontasi with Malaysia. On 12 April 1963, Indonesian volunteers—allegedly Indonesian Army personnel—began to infiltrate Sarawak and Sabah, to engage in raids and sabotage, and spread propaganda.

Walker recognised the difficulties of limites forces and a long border and in early 1963 was reinforced with an SAS squadron from UK, which rotated with another mid-year. The problem was that even when the SAS temporally adopted 3 instead of 4 man patrols they could not closely monitor the border. Another way was to increase the capability of the infantry to create a surveillance network.

To this end Walker raised the Border Scouts, building on Harrisons force of Kelabits, who had mobilised to help intercept the fleeing TNKU forces from the Brunei Revolt, the experience of the Royal Marines, and knowing the skill and usefulness of the Sarawak Rangers in the Malayan Emergency. This was approved by the Sarawak government in May as auxiliary police. Walker selected Lieutenant Colonel John Cross, a Gurkha officer with immense jungle experience for the task. A training centre was established in a remote area at Mt Murat in the 5th Division and staffed mostly by SAS. Border Scouts were attached to infantry battalions and evolved into an intelligence gathering force by using their local knowledge and extended families.[13] In addition the Police Special Branch, which had proved so effective during the Malayan Emergency in recruiting sources in the communist organisation, was expanded. [14]

Confrontation could be said to have started from a military perspective when the police post at Tebedu was attacked.[15] On 27 July, Sukarno declared that he was going to "crush Malaysia" (Indonesian: Ganyang Malaysia).

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The creation of Malaysia meant that Malaysian Army units deployed to Borneo (now East Malaysia). 3rd Battalion Royal Malay Regiment (RMR) went to Tawau in Sabah and the 5th to the 1st Division of Sarawak. The Tawau area also had a company of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Brigadier Glennie, who was dirctly responsible for the East Brigade area had recognised the risks in the area. The RN guardship made a seaborne attack unlikely but the myriad creeks and rivers around Tawau, Cowie Harbour and Wallace Bay were a challenge. He organised an ad hoc waterborne force that became the Tawau Assault Group (TAG).[19]

One of 3 RMR's positions was at Kalabakan west of Tawau. There was a fortified police station and 400 yards away in 2 unfortified huts (with some adjacent fighting trenches) were some 50 RMR soldiers with their company commander. In late December a force of 35 KKO regulars and 128 volunteers crossed into Sabah and remained in the swampland undetected for 8 days. The mission was to capture Kalabakan move on Tawau with Indonesian expatriates rising to join them. At 11:00 pm on 29 December the RMR position had been taken by surprise, with 8 killed including the commander and 19 wounded. An attack shortly after on the police station failed. The attackers moved north instead of east to liberate Tawau. Gurkhas were flown in and after a month it was over. Two thirds of the KKO participants were killed of captured and admitted that they had expected the population to rise and greet them as liberators.[20]

TAG became properly established based on an infantry company, marines and a Naval Gunfire Observation Party from a battery in Hong Kong. They dominated the area, and uncluded a raft-mounted mortar. One of their 'posts' was a boat permanently positioned close to the international border across Wallace Bay.

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The Indonesian Air Force also operated air transport, particularly into the more mountainous areas of the border that were beyond rivers navigable by larger boats and landing craft. Although they had far less aircraft than the Commonwealth forces, those they had were far more capable. They included the workhorse helicopter Mil Mi-4 NATO reporting name HOUND, the largest helicopter in the world, Mil Mi-6 NATO reporting name HOOK, and C-130 Hercules.

It appears that the Indonesians lost a C-130 in Borneo, but there are various stories about the circumstances. One is that it crashed while avoiding a Javelin. Another has more detail, the Long Bawang airfield is at the base of a small beak of Indonesian territory protruding into the 5th Division of Sarawak near Ba Kelalan, RAF fighter patrols along the border had a habit of cutting the corner and flying across the beak. Indonesian anti-aircraft gunners were ordered to shoot down the next aircraft that overflew them, this they did. However, it was an Indonesian C-130 with about a company of RPKAD on board who were to jump into the airfield, the gunners shooting was good, the RPKAD jumped but the aircraft was losing height and many parachutes didnt have the height to fully open and the aircraft crashed close to the airfield.

During the year Indonesian forces increased in strength and incursions were increasingly by regular troops, sometimes led by officers trained by the UK. A US Army training team remained in Indonesia throughout the period but does not seem to have had any tactical impact in Kalimantan, although US-equipped Indonesian units appeared there. Troops facing Kuching were reinforced and in the east amphibious activities increased and TAGs communications jammed. Moreover, within Sarawak the CCO was expanding and the Borneo Communist Party started producing grenades and shotguns. Total Indonesian forces were:

Facing West Bde — 8 regular and 11 volunteer guerilla companies (companies were up to 200 strong)
Facing Central Bde — 6 regular and 3 volunteer companies
Facing East Bde — 4 or 5 KKO and 3 volunteer companies.[26]

From the 1950's to 1960's Australian troops were involved in the Malayan Emergency and the highly secret operations of the Indonesian Confrontation which was not revealed to the public until 30 years after. The Australia was ally under the defense pact.

The confrontation is history of the past, conflict of political ideology differences and nationalism of the two countries. It is now history subject for the academic of the two countries to study. As an ordinary citizen of the two countries, let not history be a barrier or obstacles for the close relationship between the two countries now. Let us value the relationship we have now.

Related articles:
1. Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesia%E2%80%93Malaysia_confrontation
2. Scourge of Sukarno: the Gurkhas in Borneo,http://www.historicaleye.com/sukarno.html
3. http://www.britains-smallwars.com/Borneo/index.html

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