SINGAPORE - The Singapore Government has asked that Hong Kong authorities immediately return the nine Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Terrex infantry troop carrier vehicles that were seized by Hong Kong Customs in November last year, Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen said in Parliament on Monday (Jan 9).
In a Facebook post, Dr Ng explained that the Singapore Government had asserted its sovereign rights over the Terrexes and other equipment that are being held in Hong Kong.
"Under international law and Hong Kong law, these equipment were immune for any measures of constraint abroad and therefore must be returned to Singapore immediately," he wrote.
Dr Ng added that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had written to Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying over the issue.
"[The] Hong Kong government responded that they needed time to complete investigations and that the matter would be handled in accordance to their law. We welcome their response and hope this matter will be resolved satisfactorily with our Terrexes returned in accordance to law," Dr Ng wrote in the post.
The nine armoured vehicles were seized by Hong Kong Customs on November 23 last year, when they were in transit en route to Singapore.
Since the seizure, representatives of shipping company APL has held three meetings with authorities in Hong Kong.
The key points of Dr Ng's speech were also highlighted in a post on Cyberpioneer, the official Facebook page of the SAF.
Dr Ng also said that the SAF moves over 700 military platforms around the world using commercial shipping companies every year, and has done so for over 30 years.
"The shipping companies are contracted to comply with all relevant international and local port rules, and to avoid places where security risks such as piracy is high," according to Cyberpioneer's post.
Cyberpioneer also said that the SAF has conducted a comprehensive review of its shipping processes. "In places where the risk of detention of SAF assets is assessed to have increased, the SAF will take additional precautions even if it means higher freight charges."
SAF is also considering the possibility of leasing space to house the equipment at overseas training sites, and to buy additional units to meet operational requirements where necessary.
Read also: The Terrex fallacies