'No formal reasons' for seizure of SAF vehicles after 3rd meeting

Armoured troop carriers, belonging to Singapore, are detained at a cargo terminal in Hong Kong, on Nov 28, 2016. P PHOTO: REUTERS

Shipping line APL has not received formal reasons for the seizure of nine Singapore infantry carrier vehicles, even after a third meeting between the company and the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.

The armoured vehicles were detained on Nov 23.

In a statement sent out last night, the Defence Ministry (Mindef) said APL met the Hong Kong authorities from 10am to 4pm yesterday.

The company had its second meeting with the Hong Kong department for six hours on Thursday.

Both parties first met on Nov 29.

"We have not been provided formal reasons as yet for the detention of the Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles," said Mindef in its statement.

It added that it had advised APL officials to "continue to extend their full cooperation" to the Hong Kong Customs department, to expedite the return of the vehicles.

The nine Terrex vehicles and equipment that were seized had been used in a Singapore Armed Forces military exercise in Taiwan, and were on an APL ship taking them back to Singapore.

The ship was in transit in Hong Kong when the vehicles were detained.

Following this, 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.

Both Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan subsequently said Singapore fully believes in and respects this policy.

Dr Balakrishnan also said that Singapore's training arrangements with Taiwan are long-running and not a secret, with many Singaporean men having trained there since 1975.

The SAF conducts overseas training in a dozen or so territories, and hires commercial shipping lines to transport its military equipment. This is the norm for militaries during peacetime, Dr Ng said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2016, with the headline 'No formal reasons' for seizure of SAF vehicles after 3rd meeting. Subscribe