Swatch Malaysia Sues Government Over The Seizure Of Its Pride Collection Watches
Swatch Malaysia has filed a bid in the High Court against the government for seizing 172 watches that were allegedly linked to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) rights movement
The government authorities confiscated watches from at least 10 Swatch outlets across Malaysia between 13 and 15 May.
It was reported that the seized watches were under the brand's Pride Collection, worth a total of RM64,795.
According to The Vibes, Swatch Group (M) Sdn Bhd named four respondents in the judicial review application filed on 24 June, namely the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) chief secretary, MOHA enforcement division secretary, the Home Affairs Minister, and the government of Malaysia.
The company claimed that the seizure was illegal as the watches are not defined as a form of "publication" under the Printing Presses and Publication Act (PPPA)
According to Swatch, under the act, the term "publication" only refers to documents, newspapers, books, or any materials in printed form.
"The said watches have yet to be defined as a prohibited publication, thus the officers have no powers to enter the applicant's (Swatch Malaysia) outlets to seize them," Free Malaysia Today quoted the company as saying.
Swatch also mentioned that some of the watches had been selling at its stores for over a year, but no prior notice of any complaints was given before the raid.
Last month, the company's lawyers wrote to MOHA to demand the return of the seized watches, but it did not do so.
Swatch also claimed that MOHA's seizure operation was a political stunt done ahead of the state elections
"The applicant also contends that the government's action was done for improper political motives, given the state elections will be held soon.
"The minister was seeking to show his 'Islamic' credentials for political purposes," it said.
The case is scheduled to be heard in the High Court on 20 July.
The incident caught national attention in mid-May following Coldplay's announcement of their concert date in Malaysia.
A social media post then went viral for asking members of the public to boycott Swatch as it sold watches linked to the LGBT+ rights movement. It suggested people should throw their colourful Swatch watches away as a way to protest against Coldplay, who is known for promoting gay rights.