The nine Singapore Armed Forces Terrex armoured vehicles seized in Hong Kong more than two months ago have been moved out of the city’s customs’ cargo examination compound on Thursday afternoon (Jan 26), in an apparent preparation for their return to the Republic.
A giant crane and several container trucks were seen driving into the compound near the River Trade Terminal off Lung Mun Road in the morning before one of the Terrex armoured troop carriers, covered with a grey sheet, was moved out shortly after lunchtime.
It is understood the military vehicles will be transported to a container terminal in Kwai Chung, where they will be loaded on a cargo vessel and then shipped back to Singapore.
Hong Kong’s customs chief said on Wednesday that the shipping company responsible could pick up the vehicles from the compound any time and send them to Singapore once it had obtained the right papers from the Trade and Industry Department.
The release of the troop carriers came after the Customs and Exercise Department completed an investigation and found that the Singapore government could not be held responsible as it was only the consignee of the vehicles.
But APL, the shipping company that was transporting the vehicles from Taiwan back to Singapore after a military exercise, could potentially face criminal prosecution.
Under Hong Kong’s Import and Export Ordinance, a licence is required for the import, export, re-export or transshipment of strategic commodities. The maximum penalty for failing to obtain a licence is an unlimited fine and seven years’ imprisonment.
The nine armoured vehicles were found by Hong Kong Customs on Nov 23 in 12 containers on their way to Singapore from the Taiwanese port of Kaohsiung.