Swatch Malaysia has dismissed the Malaysian Home Ministry’s claims that the latter only confiscated watches with the letters ‘LGBTQ’ inscribed on the timepiece. It posits that watches that were in pride colours without the lettering were confiscated as well.
According to media reports, a Swatch spokesperson said that the ministry seized timepieces from not only the pride collection but from previous collections as well. This was in response to a government source, who was quoted by FMT, stating that all the hundreds of watches had the ‘LGBTQ’ letters inscribed on them.
Reportedly, the spokesperson went on to add that six of the colours that were confiscated were from the new 2023 rainbow flag-inspired collection while the other three were from the previous collection, insinuating that could have been misinformation in the exact details of the items.
The anonymous government source reinforced that the ministry did not seize the watches just because of the rainbow colours, commenting that if they did so for the watches, they would have to do the same for ‘paddle pop ice creams’ as well.
A+M has reached out to the Home Ministry for a statement on the matter.
The news of Swatch being raided by the home ministry made headlines earlier this month, where the Swiss watchmaker said that the Malaysian authorities confiscated 164 rainbow-coloured watches worth a total of US$14,000 from its Pride collection for LGBTQ connotations, according to AP News.
It reported that Malaysia's Ministry of Home Affairs raided various outlets across eleven different malls and confiscated watches that came in the colours of the rainbow. Malaysia is known for criminalising same-sex relationships with punishments including caning and jail time.
The seizure was reportedly based on the Printing Presses and Publications Act of 1984 which ensures that content produced does not offend or undermine race relations.
Swatch then released a statement by its CEO, Nick Hayek Jr. nothing that it "strongly contests" the idea that its rainbow watches, which were put out with the message of peace and love, could be harmful.
He noted that Swatch has always promoted the positive message of having joy in one's life and that there was nothing political in its messaging. He ended his statement by questioning how the Regulatory and Enforcement Division of the Home Ministry will "confiscate" the many natural rainbows that appear in Malaysia skies yearly.
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