Singapore armoured vehicles still impounded: Hong Kong authorities

3 January 2017

Nine Singapore armoured personnel carriers seized by Hong Kong custom authorities in November are still being held, said the territory’s Customs and Excise Department.

According to the South China Morning Post, a department spokesman said, “As the case is still under investigation, no further information is available. The suspected controlled items are still kept at a customs storage place in Tuen Mun. They have been stored indoors since December 6.”

The department issued the statement in the wake of an Apple Daily report, which said that the vehicles had been missing since Monday (2 January).  The vehicles were stored in the outdoor storage yard of the Tuen Mun storage facility after being confiscated on 23 November.

The Terrex infantry carrier vehicles were taken at the Kwai Chung Container Terminal from a vessel that had arrived from Taiwan, where Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel regularly carry out military exercises, as the vehicles did not have the required permits.

In the wake of the vehicles’ seizure, China’s Foreign Ministry lodged an official protest against the military exercises, which have been held since the 1970s. China is against any official exchanges between Taiwan and countries that have diplomatic ties with Beijing.

Last week, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen acknowledged that the detention of the vehicles had been a “low point” for Singapore. But he stressed that the incident does not pose an existential threat or a potential threat.

“The SAF will learn from this episode and has already changed its practices to better protect our assets… We have been working at all levels of Government these past two months to effect their return, quietly and out of the limelight where it is more effective.”