The seizure and detainment of Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) armoured vehicles by Hong Kong customs will be one of the main topics on the Parliament’s agenda when it sits on Monday (Jan 9).
The Order Paper published on Friday (Jan 6) showed that six Members of Parliament (MPs) have tabled questions on the issue, touching on areas such as Singapore’s relations with China, whether any military secrets could be compromised, and what are the steps the Government is taking to get the vehicles back. The MPs also want to know whether the Ministry of Defence is reviewing its existing contractual arrangements for the transportation of military equipment between Singapore and foreign ports.
Sembawang Group Representation Constituency MP Vikram Nair, for example, asked Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen for an update on the situation and whether Singapore is likely to get the vehicles back, and if not, what are the remedies available. Aljunied GRC MP Pritam Singh questioned “whether any confidential or secret equipment and information (were) compromised or potentially disclosed to foreign powers”.
Directing his question to Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad wanted to know what is the current state of relations between Singapore and China in view of the seizure, how the Republic can “continue to balance its existing trade and foreign relations interests with strong expectations from China to align with its One China policy and claims over the South China Sea”, and what are the plans to “normalise relations”.
Last Friday, Dr Ng said on Facebook that Singapore has been working at all levels of government “quietly and out of the limelight” to get the Terrexes back from Hong Kong. Describing the seizure of the Terrexes on Nov 23 as a “low point in 2016 from the defence perspective”, Dr Ng added that “the SAF will learn from this episode and has already changed its practices to better protect our assets”. He added that he will elaborate on the issue at Monday’s Parliament session.