Authorities in Malaysia reportedly raided over 11 stores selling Swatch timepieces featuring rainbow symbols that are part of the brand’s ‘Pride collection’.
Swatch outlets in various shopping malls, including Pavilion KL, One Utama, Sunway Pyramid, Mid Valley Megamall, and Suria Sabah, were reportedly raided by agents of the Home Ministry on 13th and 14th May.
Meanwhile, five shops located in Alor Setar, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Bharu, Johor Bahru, and Kuching received warnings instead of further action.
The raids were allegedly prompted by online users connecting the Swatch collection to British band Coldplay’s support for the LGBTQ+ community.
The band is scheduled to hold their first concert in Malaysia in November, but a member of the Malaysian Islamic Party has called for its cancellation, claiming it promotes “hedonism and deviant cultures”.
In response, Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek Jr stated that the company has always been known for embracing people from diverse backgrounds through their vibrant and “colourful” watches.
Hayek reportedly stated: “Swatch is proud of being the canvas on the wrist for all people worldwide and many artists working with us.
“Creativity and colours paired with Swiss-made quality are what we are loved for.
“We strongly contest that our collection of watches using rainbow colours and having a message of peace and love could be harmful to whomever.
“On the contrary, Swatch always promotes a positive message of joy in life. This is nothing political.”
He added: “We wonder how the home ministry’s regulatory and enforcement division will confiscate the many beautiful natural rainbows that are showing up a thousand times a year in the sky of Malaysia.”
Swatch later appealed to the ministry to return the confiscated watches, local media reported.
Being a Muslim-majority country, the LGBTQ+ movement still very much remains a taboo in Malaysia.