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Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

50 years since Indonesia confrontation

by August 11, 2016 General

It’s been 50 years since the end of a little known conflict on the island of Borneo between Indonesia and Malaysia.

Australia lost 23 diggers in what was dubbed the Indonesian Confrontation.

The troops fought alongside British and New Zealand soldiers to protect a newly-established Malaysian federation from attacks by Indonesian paratroop and amphibious raids.

The conflict spanned 1963-66.

Then-Indonesian President Sukarno believed the creation of the Malaysian federation, which included Singapore and the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak, was a British ploy to preserve colonial rule by stealth.

His foreign minister dubbed the conflict “Konfrontasi” or confrontation.

Australia initially tried to stay out of the war because of fears it would spread to other parts of the Indonesian archipelago more difficult to defend, particularly the Papua New Guinea border. PNG was a colony of Australia at the time.

Australia relented in early 1965 and agreed to deploy a battalion to Borneo and also had war ships stationed off the coast.

The top secret nature of cross operations meant the conflict received little coverage in the Australian press.

Confrontation faded away after the October 1965 coup that brought General Suharto to power.

The anniversary will be marked during the Last Post ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra at 4.55pm on Thursday.

© AAP 2016

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