Home Ministry Raids 11 Swatch Stores & Seize Their Rainbow Watches For Supporting LGBTQ+
Swatch recently received negative comments online after the brand was perceived to be supportive of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer+ (LGBTQ+) community
Some Malaysians were outraged when it was announced that Coldplay would be performing in the country because the band had publicly stood by their LGBTQ+ fans.
Following the news, a Facebook user urged other Malaysians to throw away their Swatch watches because the company was selling its Pride Collection timepieces, which were designed with rainbow stripes, at retail stores.
"You don't have to wait for Coldplay. Whoever is wearing Swatch watches, throw them away right now!" the post wrote.
After the Facebook post went viral, officers from the Ministry of Home Affairs went on to raid 11 Swatch stores and seized all of the brand's Pride Collection watches
The officers raided Swatch's Mid Valley Megamall store and served them with a notice stating that 22 watches had been confiscated because they carried LGBTQ+ symbols.
The notice also stated that the collection was violating the Printing Presses and Publications Act of 1984. According to the Act, brands that sell items that are considered harmful or likely to be harmful to morals may face legal consequences.
Aside from the Mid Valley outlet, 10 other Swatch stores across the country were raided on Saturday, 13 May, and Sunday, 14 May, including 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Sunway Pyramid, Sunway Putra Mall, SOGO KL, and Vivacity Megamall.
Swatch's chief executive officer (CEO), Nick Hayek, issued an official statement in the aftermath of the ministry's raids
"Since the creation of the brand, Swatch is proud and known to be the canvas on the wrist for all people worldwide, and for the many artists that are working with us. Creativity and colours paired with our Swiss-made quality watches are what we are loved for," he said.
"We strongly contest that our collection of watches that uses rainbow colours and carry a message of peace and love could be harmful to whomever. On the contrary, Swatch always gives a positive message of joy in life," he added.
He went on to say that Swatch's Pride Collection watches are not a political statement, quipping, "This is nothing political. We wonder how the Enforcement and Control Division at the Ministry of Home Affairs will confiscate the many beautiful natural rainbows that show up thousand of times a year in the sky of Malaysia."