SINGAPORE – Shipping firm APL will have a second meeting with the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department on Thursday (Dec 1) to resolve the issue of nine Singapore infantry carrier vehicles that were seized in Hong Kong last week, said the Defence Ministry (Mindef).
Formal reasons for the detention have yet to be provided although customs officials are hopeful of completing their investigation soon, Mindef added in a statement.
Mindef said that the two parties met for seven hours on Tuesday (Nov 29) and that it has “advised APL to give its full cooperation to the Hong Kong authorities” in order to expedite the recovery of the Singapore Armed Forces’ assets.
Mindef said that Hong Kong Customs have added security guards stationed 24-hours at the site housing the Terrex vehicles.
APL was transporting the vehicles to Singapore after a military exercise in Taiwan when they were seized in Hong Kong last Wednesday (Nov 23).
The SAF conducts overseas training in a dozen or so territories and hires commercial shippers to transport military equipment.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen had on Tuesday (Nov 29) said that it is the norm for militaries to use commercial carriers to ship equipment or vehicles for peacetime training.
Singapore has used commercial shipping lines to transport military vehicles and equipment overseas for decades, including transporting them via Hong Kong, as that is the most cost-effective and efficient method.
The detention of the vehicles has attracted international attention as China voiced its unhappiness over the incident.
It said that Beijing is opposed to countries with whom it has diplomatic ties to have any form of official exchange with Taiwan and asked Singapore to adhere to the one-China policy. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province.
Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, addressing the issue at The Straits Times Global Outlook Forum on Tuesday (Nov 29), said that Singapore has believed in the “one-China” policy since establishing diplomatic ties with China over 25 years ago.
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