Military gear seized last year by the Hong Kong authorities is to be returned to the Singapore government, according to Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A shipment of nine Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles, and other military hardware, has been held in Hong Kong since November 23 last year. The vehicles were in transit following an exercise in Taiwan. Singapore and Taiwan have – for decades – engaged in joint military exercises.

armoured carriers inspection
Photo: Factwire.

The Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong received a message from Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Tuesday saying that investigations were complete and the shipment would be returned.

“This is a positive outcome. Prime Minister Lee has replied to Chief Executive Leung to thank him for Hong Kong’s cooperation in resolving this matter,” a statement said.

YouTube video

See also: Singaporean defence minister says Hong Kong’s seizure of its military vehicles violates international law

Hong Kong Commissioner of Customs and Excise Roy Tang said that the investigation may lead to criminal prosecution as it is an offence to ship strategic commodities in breach of licensing requirements.

“The action by the Hong Kong Customs on November 23, 2016 was taken because there was a suspected breach of the Hong Kong law… The military vehicles and the associated equipment will be returned to Singapore through the carrier,” he said.

It is the first time Hong Kong’s customs chief has responded to media enquiries over the matter.

News agency FactWire previously cited sources as saying that mainland authorities tipped off Hong Kong Customs about a shipment docked in the coastal sea port of Xiamen in southeastern China’s Fujian province, before the seizure.

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.