Photo of MG Melvyn Ong from Straits Times

When questioned by media reporters over the usage of commercial shipping line, the Singapore Chief of Army Major-General Melvyn Ong said that it is the cheapest way to transport because of their vast networks in the shipping logistic industry. MG Melvyn Ong claimed that many militaries do the same but without specifying which country.

“It’s a commonly adopted means. Many militaries use it consistently .. during peacetime training. It’s the most cost-effective and efficient means of transporting large amounts of equipment.”

Paper general MG Melvyn Ong then pin the blame fully on the commercial shipping company, APL, for the incident saying that they should be responsible:

“We have a system in place to ensure how this is done properly. We have an established system for engaging commercial companies. All are required to comply with stringent requirements to protect against tampering and theft – for example, we lock; double lock some containers to ensure the security of goods on board. They must also apply for all necessary permits (and) all regulatory requirements while travelling and at ports of call. The contractor has to be responsible for this.”

Despite blaming APL for the incident, MG Melvyn Ong said that he has no control and that it was a “commercial decision”:

“We don’t specify the route. It’s a purely commercial decision taken by APL. But we don’t stop at certain ports with security implications for cargo.”

The Major General was however ambivalent in his conclusion and sighed:

“We’ve never had an incident before. But we will take a look… Let’s see how it goes.”

This is the first incident of a confiscation by China and highlighted the first casualty of the sale of Singapore’s national shipping line, Neptune Orient Line.