Singapore confirmed on Friday the armoured vehicles seized by Hong Kong customs belonged to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). Singapore's Ministry of Defence said the Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles confiscated at Hong Kong's Kwai Chung Container were used by the SAF in overseas training.
The military vehicles shipped from Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan to Singapore in 12 containers were "delayed at Hong Kong's Kwai Chung Container Terminal, due to a request for routine inspections by the Hong Kong Customs authorities," the defence ministry said, the Straits Times reported.
On Thursday Hong Kong authorities said they were trying to identify the owner and sender of the cargo after a consignment of military tanks was seized by Hong Kong customs at Kwai Chung terminal.
The armoured military vehicles, along with components and accessories, were being shipped from Taiwan to Singapore, the Channel News Asia said. According to the Free Press, the nine armoured vehicles were wrapped in blue and grey covers and placed on container racks in a container ship that set sail from Kaohsiung in Taiwan.
The Hong Kong publication said the armoured vehicles belonged to Singapore, citing experts and a crowd-funded journalism and intelligence community. The tanks belonged to the Singaporean army, which has been conducting training programmes in Taiwan, the report added. Citing a defence expert, the publication said the vehicles were Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles which are in use in Singapore.
"Hong Kong was not its final destination. It is not known why the consignment was unloaded here ... We are still trying to identify the owner, sender and consignee of the cargo," a government official who declined to be named told the South China Morning Post.
The vehicles were confiscated on Wednesday at the Kwai Chung Terminal, along with explosives. Singapore publications like Today and Channel News Asia have said the defence minister has not responded yet to queries over the development.
"The Terrex ICVs were used by the Singapore Armed Forces in routine overseas training and shipped back via commercial means as with previous exercises," Mindef said, "Singapore authorities are providing relevant assistance to the Hong Kong Customs and expect the shipment to return to Singapore expeditiously," the defence department added.