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 yesterday, quashing speculation that the vehicles may have been returned.
A report by the Apple Daily newspaper on Monday said the vehicles, which it said had been kept at an open-air 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 to The Straits Times yesterday that the vehicles "are still kept at a storage place of Customs in Tuen Mun". "They have been stored indoors since Dec 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 a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) military exercise in Taiwan.
Hong Kong Customs said it had impounded the shipment because the vessel owner APL had failed to provide the appropriate permits for the vehicles, the South China Morning Post reported.
Following the seizure, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Beijing is opposed to countries with which it has diplomatic ties having official exchanges with Taiwan, and asked Singapore to adhere to the "one China" policy.
In response to a question by the Post yesterday, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Mr Geng Shuang, said the Hong Kong government is dealing with the matter in accordance with its laws and regulations.
Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Dec 30 the SAF will learn from the incident and has already changed its practices to better protect Singapore's military assets.
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".
The Ministry of Defence has made formal representations to Hong Kong over the matter.