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In prior weapon seizures, HK customs detained S Korean vehicles, Soviet-made warplane and armoured carriers

SINGAPORE — The detainment of nine Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) armoured vehicles last November was not the first such seizure by Hong Kong authorities.

The detainment of nine Singapore Armed Forces Terrex vehicles on Nov 23 last year was not the first such seizure by Hong Kong authorities. Photo: AP

The detainment of nine Singapore Armed Forces Terrex vehicles on Nov 23 last year was not the first such seizure by Hong Kong authorities. Photo: AP

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SINGAPORE — The detainment of nine Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) armoured vehicles last November was not the first such seizure by Hong Kong authorities.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, in his reply to supplementary questions in Parliament on Monday (Jan 9), pointed to a similar incident in 2010, when two South Korean military vehicles were seized by Hong Kong authorities in a matter of days.

In September that year, Hong Kong customs had seized a disarmed K-21 light tank, which had made a stop in Hong Kong on its way from Saudi Arabia to Busan, South Korea. 

Then, less than a week later, the Hong Kong authorities also impounded a South Korean armoured personnel carrier, similarly en route from Saudi Arabia to Busan. The vehicles, which had been in Saudi Arabia for an exhibition, were reportedly seized because they did not have the licences needed for strategic equipment.

The vehicles were returned to South Korea only in November 2010 through China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

In earlier incidents, Hong Kong customs had in 2006 confiscated a MiG-29 warplane, made in the now-defunct Soviet Union, that was on its way to the United States, according to the South China Morning Post.  

Six years earlier, the authorities there had seized five armoured personnel carriers, also Soviet-made, which were transiting through Hong Kong without a licence on its way from Naples, Italy to Tianjin, China, said Hong Kong’s Customs and Excise Department on its website.

In Singapore’s case, nine of the SAF’s Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles — which were being transported from Taiwan to Singapore — were seized in Hong Kong on Nov 23 last year. The vehicles are worth S$30 million in all.

Government leaders, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Hong, have since been urging the vehicles’ immediate return. Dr Ng revealed in Parliament on Monday that Mr Lee had written to Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

The defence minister added that the Hong Kong authorities said the investigation was continuing and would take some time to complete, and the Hong Kong government would handle the matter in accordance with its laws.

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