Terrex seizure: SAF will learn from incident, says Ng Eng Hen

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the Singapore Armed Forces will learn from last month's seizure of nine armoured vehicles by the Hong Kong authorities and has already changed its practices to better protect Singapore's military assets.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the Singapore Armed Forces will learn from last month's seizure of nine armoured vehicles by the Hong Kong authorities and has already changed its practices to better protect Singapore's military assets.PHOTO: ST FILE

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will learn from last month's seizure of nine armoured vehicles by the Hong Kong authorities and has already changed its practices to better protect Singapore's military assets, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday.

Meanwhile, all levels of the Government have 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", he added in a Facebook post.

Dr Ng did not elaborate further, but said he would reveal more during the next Parliament sitting, which is scheduled for next month.

While describing the Terrex issue as a low point in 2016 "from the defence perspective", and one that upset many, Dr Ng called for Singaporeans to view it in its proper context, explaining that it "does not pose an existential threat or even a potential threat as, say, terrorism does today".

"And the SAF must not lose focus or allow that one issue to dominate all else. Neither should Singaporeans allow this one incident to shake our confidence or weaken our solidarity. We are a sovereign and independent country, and we will chart our own future," he said.

On Nov 23, Hong Kong Customs detained nine Terrex vehicles that were on board a container ship that was in transit in Hong Kong. They were being shipped to Singapore following an SAF military exercise in Taiwan. Hong Kong Customs had impounded the shipment because vessel owner APL had failed to provide appropriate permits for the vehicles, the South China Morning Post reported.

Summing up his thoughts on 2016, Dr Ng said there were significant achievements that have strengthened Singapore's security.

He said relations with countries such as the United States, China and India are "fundamentally strong and healthy", and defence ties with other nations are growing. Singapore also signed a landmark agreement with Australia to provide more space and time for the SAF to train, he added.

 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2016, with the headline 'Terrex seizure: SAF will learn from incident, says Ng Eng Hen'. Print Edition | Subscribe