A truckload of used camouflage uniforms with SAF, or Singapore Armed Forces, tags on them was seized from suspected smugglers on Batam island by the Indonesian navy on Wednesday.
They include the green digital camouflage uniforms first issued by the SAF in 2008, as well as an older version with overlapping splotches of black, brown and green. Servicemen commonly referred to both the uniforms as the No. 4 dress.
Tanjung Pinang Naval Base commander S. Irawan said personnel from Indonesia's Western fleet spotted a vessel on Wednesday unloading goods near Pulau Galang, an island 40km south-east of Batam.
The smuggled goods, which mainly comprised old electrical appliances such as television sets and washing machines, were later loaded onto 19 trucks. One of those trucks was carrying only military attire, including combat boots, believed to be SAF-issued items.
The admiral said the navy has yet to determine the alleged owner of the goods but the boat captain and truck drivers are being held for questioning in Tanjung Pinang.
"The question now is why that much military attire is being sent to Batam," said First Admiral Irawan.
When asked if the uniforms were being sent to militant groups in Indonesia or elsewhere, he said "all possibilities" are being considered. "But I cannot confirm that yet, we will need time to investigate," he told reporters yesterday.
The unauthorised sale of SAF uniforms or equipment is an offence under military law in Singapore. But locals say it is common to find used military uniforms being sold in flea markets in Batam, including the SAF No. 4.
The SAF said yesterday that it is looking into the matter.
SAF's Chief Supply Officer, Colonel Terry Tan, said servicemen are not allowed to sell any army equipment issued to them, and those caught will face disciplinary action. "Only authorised vendors are allowed to sell or dispose of Army uniforms," he said.