Confiscated troop carriers shipped from Hong Kong back to Singapore, country’s defence minister says
Military vehicles held in city for two months transported to container terminal under armed police escort
Nine Singaporean military vehicles confiscated in Hong Kong more than two months ago left customs’ cargo examination compound in Tuen Mun early on Friday before being shipped back to the Lion City.
At about midnight Friday, the Terrex vehicles were carried away from the River Trade Terminal to a container terminal in Kwai Chung for shipment to Singapore.
And on Friday morning, Singaporean defence minister Ng Eng Hen posted on Facebook: “Our Terrexes left Hong Kong port this morning at 0415hrs.”
Watch: Singaporean military vehicles seizure explained
Customs officers armed with rifles were seen standing guard when the vehicles left Tuen Mun, and traffic police escorted the convoy.
Hong Kong’s customs chief said on Wednesday that the shipping company responsible could pick up the vehicles from Tuen Mun any time and send them to Singapore once it had obtained the right papers from the Trade and Industry Department.
The release of the troop carriers came after the Customs and Exercise Department completed an investigation and found the Singapore government could not be held responsible as it was only the consignee of the vehicles.
But APL, the shipping company transporting the vehicles from Taiwan back to Singapore after a military exercise, is likely to face criminal prosecution.
Under Hong Kong’s Import and Export Ordinance, a licence is required for the import, export, re-export or transshipment of strategic commodities. The maximum penalty for failing to obtain a licence is an unlimited fine and seven years’ imprisonment.
The nine armoured vehicles were found by Hong Kong Customs on November 23 in 12 containers on their way to Singapore from the Taiwanese port of Kaohsiung without the required permits.
The seizure was widely seen as a warning from Beijing over military ties between Singapore and the island, which it considers a renegade province.
Additional reporting by Danny Mok