Terrex vehicles seized by Hong Kong moved indoors

Armoured troop carriers, belonging to Singapore, are detained at a cargo terminal in Hong Kong, China November 28, 2016.
PHOTO: Reuters

HONG KONG - The nine Singapore armoured vehicles that have been detained in Hong Kong since November have been moved indoors, Hong Kong's Customs and Excise Department said on Tuesday (Jan 3), quashing speculation the vehicles may have been returned.

A report by the Apple Daily newspaper on Monday (Jan 2) said the vehicles, which it said had been kept at an outdoor storage yard of a Customs storage facility in Tuen Mun, had "vanished" from the site that morning.

But the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department said in a statement issued to The Straits Times on Tuesday the vehicles "are still kept at a storage place of Customs in Tuen Mun".

SAF armoured vehicles seized in Hong Kong port

  • A shipment of nine armoured vehicles belonging to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has been seized in Hong Kong.
  • The Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles (ICVs) were discovered at Kwai Chung terminal during a routine inspection, news agency FactWire reported.
  • In response to media queries, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) confirmed in a statement that the Terrex vehicles and associated equipment were delayed at Hong Kong's Kwai Chung Container Terminal on Wed (Nov 23), due to a request for routine inspections by the Hong Kong Customs authorities.
  • "Singapore authorities are providing relevant assistance to the Hong Kong Customs and expect the shipment to return to Singapore. expeditiously," Mindef said.
  • "The Terrex ICVs were used by the SAF in routine overseas training and shipped back via commercial means as with previous exercises."
  • A Hong Kong government official who declined to be named told SCMP earlier that the consignment was en route to Singapore after an overseas training exercise. It is unknown why the vehicles were unloaded at Hong Kong.
  • The same source added that the vehicles could have been unloaded by mistake along with other general cargo.
  • The SAF is the sole operator of the 24-tonne Terrex vehicles, which is developed by local defence manufacturer Singapore Technologies (ST) Kinetics.

"They have been stored indoors since December 6," it said in the statement.

"As the case is still under investigation, no further information is available," it added.

On Nov 23, the Hong Kong Customs detained the nine Terrex vehicles that were on board a container ship that was in transit in Hong Kong.

They were being shipped to Singapore following an SAF military exercise in Taiwan. Hong Kong Customs said it had impounded the shipment because vessel owner APL had failed to provide appropriate permits for the vehicles, the South China Morning Post reported.

Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Dec 30 the Singapore Armed Forces will learn from the incident and has already changed its practices to better protect Singapore's military assets.

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Dr Ng , writing in a Facebook post, added that all levels of the Singapore government had been working hard over the past two months to get the Terrex vehicles returned to Singapore "quietly and out of the limelight where it is more effective".

This article was first published on Jan 3, 2016.
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