Swatch raids nothing to do with colours: Home Ministry

Swatch raids nothing to do with colours: Home Ministry

‘LGBTQIA2S’ wording caused watchmaker to run afoul of Printing Presses and Publications Act, says source

A senior official from the Home Ministry says that some critics of its recent raids on Swatch stores nationwide are ill-informed of the nature of the enforcement operations.

PUTRAJAYA – The seizure of 164 Swatch watches has nothing to do with the colours of the rainbow or the word “Pride” but the term “LGBTQ” printed on the watches.

A senior official from the Home Ministry told The Vibes that some of the critics of the raid were ill-informed of the nature of the raid on 11 Swatch stores nationwide between May 13 and 15.

He said the word “LGBTQIA2S” features prominently on the watches where the term stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and two-spirit.

The enforcement he said was based on contraventions to Section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

The section grants the home minister absolute discretion to prohibit any publication or item “prejudicial to or likely to be prejudicial to public order, morality, (or) security”.

“As a report was lodged we had to take action based on present regulations,” he said.

“We hope talk that rainbow-coloured items will be banned are just (forms of) sarcastic humour and not a misperception of what will exactly happen,” said the official.

He said Swatch Group chief Nick Hayek, who has threatened legal action to recover its rainbow-themed “Pride Collection” watches, was misrepresenting what had happened.

“We have nothing against peace, love, diversity and inclusivity which Hayek said the collection propagates,” the official said.

“But the wording and symbols go against our regulations,” he said.

Hayek had also queried as to how the authorities would “confiscate the many beautiful natural rainbows that are showing up thousand times a year in the sky of Malaysia”.

“Criticise but don’t misrepresent,” the official added.

Nothing to do with Coldplay

He also said it had nothing to do with pop group Coldplay’s support of the LGBTQ community.

The Swatch raids occurred after PAS MP Nasrudin Hassan on May 10 called on the government to cancel the British quartet’s November 22 concert in Kuala Lumpur for “promoting hedonism and deviant culture”.

Nasruddin had attached pictures of frontman Chris Martin waving the Pride flag.


A Home Ministry source says the raids on Swatch outlets has nothing to do with Coldplay’s support of the LGBTQ community. – Raph_PH Flickr pic, May 29, 2023

Minister and cabinet not in the know

Meanwhile the official said the enforcement was done independently without informing Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

“It was a routine operation. There was no need to inform the minister,” he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had weighed in on the controversy, saying that the raids were spurred by LGBTQ symbols and not the colours.

“Let the ministry explain themselves. It is not an issue of the colours displayed on the watch, but the LGBT wording,” Anwar was quoted as saying.

The Home Ministry’s regulation and enforcement division had raided Swatch stores in Kuala Lumpur, Subang Jaya, Petaling Jaya, Johor Baru, Penang, and Kota Kinabalu.

Outlets in Kota Baru, Kuala Terengganu, Alor Star, and Kuching were issued warnings.

Swatch had said that the rainbow watches are part of the Swiss watchmaker’s “Pride collection” which was designed to honour the Pride movement and its message of equality and diversity.

Priced at RM365 each, the watches come in six colours mirroring those on the gay pride flag, and feature two rainbow loops on their straps.

The Swatch raids have brought the conversation on LGBTQ existence and rights in this country to the fore.

On May 18, the Court of Appeal reserved judgment on a Home Ministry appeal to ban the book Gay is OK: A Christian Perspective.

The high court had last year lifted the Home Ministry’s ban on the book.

BY Dylan Bob Fernandez

source – The Vibes

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