Hong Kong seizure of armoured vehicles has taught us a lesson, Singapore’s defence chief says
Ng Eng Hen also says without elaborating that the Singapore city state has changed its practices to protect its assets
The Singapore military had learned a lesson from the seizure of its armoured vehicles by the Hong Kong authorities and had changed its practices to protect its assets, the country’s defence minister said on Friday in a Facebook post.
In the post, titled 2016 – A Look Back, Ng Eng Hen described the episode as “a low point in 2016 from the defence perspective”.
“The [Singapore armed forces] will learn from this episode and has already changed its practices to better protect our assets,” Ng said, without revealing details.
“But all of us are of course upset that the Terrexes, our property, have not been returned to Singapore.”
Watch: What’s going on with the Singaporean military vehicles seized in Hong Kong?
Ng said the Singapore government had been working “at all levels” to bring the vehicles back “quietly and out of the limelight where it is more effective”.
Ng added that he would disclose more details during the next parliamentary sitting.
The nine armoured vehicles, which are being kept at the customs cargo examination facility in Tuen Mun, were found by Hong Kong customs on November 23 in 12 containers which were on their way to Singapore from the Taiwanese port of Kaohsiung without the required permits.
The vehicles, which were not “specifically” declared in the cargo manifest, had been used in a military exercise in Taiwan. It was Hong Kong’s biggest seizure of “strategic commodities” in two decades.
Ng called on the military not to lose focus or “allow this one issue to dominate all else”. He also urged fellow Singaporeans not to lose confidence in the country’s sovereignty.
“We are a sovereign and independent country, and we will chart our own future,” he said.
Ng reaffirmed that the country’s relations with others such as the United States, China and India remained strong and healthy.
“We may not see eye to eye on every issue, but that is the norm of bilateral relations between any two independent and sovereign nations,” he said.
“More importantly, with these countries, both sides value the mutual benefits that arise from strong bilateral ties and want to enhance these ties, not make them worse.”
Singapore was rebuked by Beijing for maintaining military ties with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a breakaway province.
In response to the city state’s demand for an explanation, Beijing reiterated on December 7 its call for Singapore to respect the one-China policy and abide by Hong Kong law.