The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) in a press release today said that over the past three weeks, the Singapore Government has communicated its formal position to the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) on the detention of SAF Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles and associated equipment by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.
MINDEF said in an earlier release that the Hong Kong customs department did not provide their shipping company a formal reason for the detention of the armoured vehicles. The Singapore government awaits a full resolution of this matter and return of our property by the Hong Kong SAR Government.
A Hong Kong based publication, South China Morning Post (SCMP), reported that the military vehicles have been seized for not having appropriate permits and for not ‘specifically’ declaring the content of the containers in the cargo manifest.
SCMP said: “Importing unmanifested cargo is a violation of Hong Kong’s Import and Export Ordinance and carries a maximum penalty of a seven-year jail term and HK$2 million fine, according to a source with the knowledge of the matter.”
The nine armoured vehicles were seized by Hong Kong’s Customs and Excise Department in late November when it was enroute to Singapore after a military exercise in Taiwan. The Chinese government has since lodged representation with its counterpart in Singapore, asking it to respect the ‘One China Policy’.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in assuring that Singapore will start proceedings to recover armoured vehicles once reasons for detention are clear said that Singapore adhered to the One China Policy.
He further said that Singapore’s overseas military trainings have never been a secret. “Any training matters between us and other countries are bilateral,” he added. Some netizens commenting on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site, took offence at Mr Ng’s comments and asked if Singapore truly respected the ‘One China’ policy.