Singapore Armed Forces’ Nine Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles (ICVs) and associated equipment have been moved out from Hong Kong customs’ cargo examination compound yesterday (26 January) afternoon in the preparation to be shipped back to Singapore.
The vehicles, which were seized by the Hong Kong customs at Hong Kong’s Kwai Chung Container Terminal on 23 November on their way to Singapore from the Taiwanese port of Kaohsiung, had been stored at Tuen Mun River Trade Terminal for most of the two months.
South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that a giant crane and several container trucks were seen driving into the compound in the morning. After lunch time, one of the vehicles, which was covered by grey sheet, was seen to have been moved out.
According to the media, the military vehicles will be transported to a container terminal in Kwai Chung. Later on, they will be loaded on a cargo vessel and then shipped back to the Republic.
On Wednesday, Hong Kong’s customs chief said that the shipping company responsible could pick up the vehicles from the compound anytime and send them to Singapore. However, the company had to obtain the right papers from the Trade and Industry Department before doing so.
According to Channel News Asia, a police escort will accompany the convoy of trucks at midnight on Friday to Kwai Chung Container Terminal 4. The armour then will be put on a commercial carrier.
The shipment will be handled by APL, the company which was initially handled the shipping from Taiwan back to Singapore after a military exercise. It had also assured Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) that it will be shipped directly from Hong Kong to Singapore.
The vehicles were released after the Customs and Exercise Department completed an investigation, which revealed that Singapore government could not be held responsible as it was only the consignee of the vehicles.
However, APL could potentially face criminal prosecution.
A licence is required for the import, export, re-export or transhipment of strategic commodities under Hong Kong’s Import and Export Ordinance. It stated that the maximum penalty for failing to obtain a licence is an unlimited fine and seven years’ imprisonment.