Seized SAF Terrex vehicles back home from Hong Kong

One of the nine Terrex armoured vehicles waits to be loaded onto a truck at a cargo terminal in Hong Kong on Jan 26, 2017.
One of the nine Terrex armoured vehicles waits to be loaded onto a truck at a cargo terminal in Hong Kong on Jan 26, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

The nine Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) armoured vehicles held in Hong Kong arrived in Singapore yesterday, more than two months after they were first seized.

The Ministry of Defence said in a statement that the nine Terrex infantry carrier vehicles and other equipment arrived at 2.40pm yesterday, and would be transported to an SAF camp for post-training administration.

"The standard post-training administration for all vehicles and equipment include thorough serviceability checks and routine maintenance," the statement added.

The Terrexes were covered in tarpaulin and were seen being offloaded onto trailers at PSA's terminal in Pasir Panjang yesterday afternoon.

Commercial shipper APL ferried the vehicles directly from Hong Kong without any stops.

Hong Kong Customs had, on Nov 23, seized the nine Terrex vehicles and other equipment on board an APL container ship transiting there.

The vehicles were bound for Singapore after an SAF military exercise in Taiwan.

Earlier media reports said APL had failed to provide appropriate permits for the vehicles, which are designed and made in Singapore.

On Jan 24, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying replied to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's earlier letter to inform him that the Hong Kong authorities had completed their investigations and would release the Terrex vehicles and other equipment.

Hong Kong Customs had said last week that APL could face criminal charges for a suspected breach of Hong Kong law that led to the vehicles being held.

In a Facebook post last week, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the Terrex vehicles left the Hong Kong port last Friday at 4.15am.

In a new post welcoming their return yesterday, Dr Ng said detailed checks on the vehicles would take a few days, and thanked Singaporeans for their support.

"I am proud of how Singaporeans rallied together during this episode," he wrote.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 31, 2017, with the headline 'Seized SAF Terrex vehicles back home from HK'. Print Edition | Subscribe