SAF's Terrex vehicles will be returned to Singapore, says Hong Kong

Six of the nine armoured troop carriers belonging to Singapore, from a shipment detained at a container terminal, are seen in Hong Kong, on Nov 24, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Hong Kong authorities will release the nine Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) armoured vehicles they have detained since November.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying yesterday replied to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's earlier letter to inform him that the Hong Kong authorities have completed their investigations and "will be releasing the SAF Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles and other equipment to the Singapore Government" through the carrier.

"This is a positive outcome. Prime Minister Lee has replied to Chief Executive Leung to thank him for Hong Kong's cooperation in resolving this matter," the ministry said in a statement.

Hong Kong Customs had, on Nov 23, detained the nine Terrex vehicles and other equipment on board a container ship transiting there. The vehicles were bound for Singapore after an SAF military exercise in Taiwan. The shipment was impounded because vessel owner APL failed to provide appropriate permits for the vehicles, the South China Morning Post reported.

Earlier this month, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told Parliament PM Lee had written to Mr Leung to request that the vehicles be returned.

Yesterday, Hong Kong Commissioner of Customs and Excise Roy Tang said Hong Kong had completed its investigation of the suspected breach. He added the investigation might lead to criminal prosecution.

APL said it is working with the relevant authorities and various stakeholders to ship the vehicles and related equipment back to Singapore.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2017, with the headline SAF's Terrex vehicles will be returned to Singapore, says Hong Kong. Subscribe