Singapore has confirmed that nine armored personnel carriers seized in Hong Kong belong to its army for use in overseas training.
In a statement, Singapore’s defense ministry said it has been providing assistance to Hong Kong customs and expects the shipment to be returned to the country expeditiously, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Hong Kong’s Customs and Excise Department seized several shipping containers from Kaohsiung, Taiwan, after inspection showed that they contained nine Terrex AV-81 personnel carriers, which were classified as “strategic commodities” and did not have the necessary permits.
The vehicles, along with several firearms, were found inside 12 containers covered with blue and grey tarpaulins at the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals during a routine inspection on Wednesday.
It was the first time in decades that Hong Kong discovered such a shipment, the report said.
At first customs officials suspected the arms were being shipped by some smuggling syndicate, but further investigation showed that they belonged to Singapore.
Taiwan’s TVBS quoted a source from the island’s Ministry of National Defense as saying the APCs belonged to Singapore for use by its troops in a training program under Project Starlight.
Project Starlight is an agreement signed by Singapore and Taiwan in the 1970s, under which Taiwan’s military is helping train Singaporean troops.
The APCs were on their way back from Taiwan to Singapore after a military exercise.
A senior customs official suggested the government find out if there was negligence on the part of the shipping company or the owner, Ming Pao Daily reported.
The seized vehicles were transported to a warehouse at River Trade Terminal in Tuen Mun late Thursday night for temporary storage.
Apple Daily said a new Terrex AV-81 armored personnel carrier costs around US$3.2 million.
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