A fleet of nine armored personnel carriers belonging to the Singapore Armed Forces and seized by Hong Kong customs in November have been moved from a temporary warehouse to an undisclosed location, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Customs authorities said they could not give the whereabouts of the nine Terrex AV-81 personnel carriers because the case is under investigation.
Singapore’s defense ministry also did not update the latest developments on its official website, spurring speculation the vehicles have been returned or moved to another location.
Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said in a Facebook post on Dec. 30 that the vehicles had not been returned. He said the Singapore Armed forces will change its practices to avoid a repeat of the incident.
The vehicles, along with several firearms, were found inside 12 containers at the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals during a routine inspection on Nov. 23.
Customs officials suspected the arms, which allegedly arrived in Hong Kong from Taiwan via Xiamen, were being shipped by smugglers but further investigation showed that they belonged to Singapore and were on their way back from Taiwan after being used in a military exercise.
The exercise is part of Project Starlight, a training program under which Taiwan’s military helps train Singaporean troops.
The seized vehicles costing more than HK$200 million (US$25.78 million) were transported to a warehouse at the River Trade Terminal in Tuen Mun the next day for temporary storage.
The case sparked tensions between Singapore and China which opposes any form of contact with Taiwan, including military exchanges and cooperation.
Lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said it was hard to judge whether the arms were returned based on the Customs and Excise Department’s ambiguous explanation, Apple Daily reported.
Gary Chan, another lawmaker, said the fact that the case has turned into a diplomatic crisis between the two countries suggested the case is out of the hands of the customs department which is why it could not give any information.
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