Singapore

Don't lose focus over Terrex issue: Ng Eng Hen

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will learn from last month's seizure of nine armoured vehicles by the Hong Kong authorities and has changed its practices to better protect Singapore's military assets, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday.

Meanwhile, all levels of government had been working hard over the past two months to get the Terrexes returned to Singapore, "quietly and out of the limelight where it is more effective".

He wrote in the Facebook posting that more details would be provided during the next Parliament sitting, which is scheduled for next month.

On Nov 23, Hong Kong customs detained nine Terrex vehicles that were on board a container ship, which was in transit in Hong Kong.

They were being shipped to Singapore following an SAF military exercise in Taiwan.

According to the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong customs impounded the shipment because vessel owner APL failed to provide appropriate permits.

Dr Ng said of the incident: "For most Singaporeans, Mindef and the SAF included, the detention of our Terrexes by Hong Kong authorities was a low point in 2016 from the defence perspective."

While the Terrex incident has been upsetting to many, Dr Ng called for the issue to be viewed in its proper context.

'ISSUE NOT A THREAT'

"The Terrex issue does not pose an existential threat or even a potential threat as say, terrorism does today.

And the SAF must not lose focus or allow that one issue to dominate all else," said Dr Ng.

"We are a sovereign and independent country, and we will chart our own future."

Summing up his thoughts on 2016, Dr Ng said there were significant achievements that have strengthened Singapore's security.

He said relations with countries like the US, China and India are "fundamentally strong and healthy" and defence ties with other countries are growing.

Singapore also signed a landmark agreement with Australia to provide more space and time for the SAF to train, he added.

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE (MINDEF)hong kongChina