The thorny issue of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer+ (LGBTQ+) has recently caused a storm among Malaysians, where it all began with the announcement of British rock band Coldplay’s first ever concert in November.
Following massive protest from conservative parties, public outrage was then directed towards watchmaker Swatch over its rainbow-themed watches, which was part of its Pride Collection.
The matter was first sparked by a Facebook user, who urged others to discard their Swatch watches as an act of protest against the brand’s support for the LGBTQ+ community.
Rainbow Swatch watches seized by authorities
It didn’t take long for authorities to take action shortly after the said post went viral, where several officers from the Ministry of Home Affairs raided 11 Swatch outlets and seized its Pride Collection watches.
According to The Edge, the raid was carried out on May 13 and 14 at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, One Utama, Sunway Pyramid, Setia City Mall, Mid Valley Megamall, Southkey, Sunway Putra Mall, Sogo KL, Queensbay, Fahrenheit 88 and Suria Sabah.
Five other stores were issued warnings, namely KTCC (Terengganu), Aeon KB, Aman Central Kedah, City Square and Viva City Kuching.
Swatch CEO expresses disappointment
Following the raid, Swatch CEO Nick Hayek Jr. issued a statement, where he expressed dismay over the matter.
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.
“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 said.
Hayek also seemingly threw shade at Malaysian authorities over the raid, saying that Swatch’s Pride Collection were never meant to be a political statement and sarcastically remarked 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.”