Parliament to discuss seizure of SAF vehicles at year's first session

The SAF's nine Terrex infantry carriers at a Hong Kong Customs storage facility last month, after being seized on Nov 23 while they were on their way back from a military exercise in Taiwan.
The SAF's nine Terrex infantry carriers at a Hong Kong Customs storage facility last month, after being seized on Nov 23 while they were on their way back from a military exercise in Taiwan.PHOTO: APPLE DAILY

The seizure of Singapore's military vehicles, held in Hong Kong since Nov 23, will top the agenda at this year's first Parliament session on Monday.

MPs have filed questions about the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) Terrex infantry carriers, which were seized by Hong Kong Customs when they were in transit on their way back from a military exercise in Taiwan.

Mr Vikram Nair (Sembawang GRC) and Ms Sun Xueling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) want to know if the vehicles will be returned to Singapore. Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC) is asking if any confidential information was compromised.

The incident, described by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen as a low point last year "from the defence perspective", has sparked questions about Singapore's relationship with China.

Mr Nair said this is one aspect of the Terrex issue he is concerned with. "The general picture we have now is that this issue will not affect Singapore's relationship with China in any way, but I think that is the unspoken concern on people's minds," he said. "Also, how are we making sure that such an incident won't happen again?"

The Ministry of Defence has made formal representations to Hong Kong over the matter, and Dr Ng had said last month that he would speak more about the issue when the House meets.

 

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Another topic that will get an airing during question time is Singapore's response to the plight of Rohingya Muslims fleeing the military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) and Mr Faisal Manap (Aljunied GRC) are asking for updates on humanitarian efforts. "I accept that we are not in the position to accept refugees, but I would like to know if we can support them in other ways," said Mr Ng, who visited Rohingya refugees in an Aceh refugee camp in November.

Mr Ong Teng Koon (Marsiling- Yew Tee GRC), meanwhile, is asking about last month's islandwide Singtel broadband outage. He wants to know what caused it, and if the Ministry of Communications and Information is taking steps to strengthen critical networks to prevent a repeat.

During Monday's sitting, the House will also introduce several new Bills, among them the Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill. It will legislate the date for presidential elections to be reserved, following constitutional changes to ensure that people of minority groups are elected from time to time.

Other proposed pieces of legislation up for debate include those on the use of mobility devices and on the raising of the retirement age.

The Active Mobility Bill will address the use of public paths by cyclists, users of personal mobility devices and pedestrians, as Singapore moves towards more sustainable modes of transportation. It also provides for stiff penalties for riders who endanger the lives of pedestrians on footpaths.

The Retirement and Re-employment (Amendment) Bill raises the re-employment age to 67 from July, up from the current 65.

Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan has also filed an adjournment motion to talk for up to 20 minutes on civil claims that arise from safety breaches during SAF training.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2017, with the headline 'Parliament to discuss seizure of SAF vehicles at year's first session'. Print Edition | Subscribe