Swatch Malaysia files bid seeking return of rainbow watches

17 Jul 2023 10:48am
Swatch Malaysia's controversial watch collection - Photo: SWATCH MALAYSIA
Swatch Malaysia's controversial watch collection - Photo: SWATCH MALAYSIA

KUALA LUMPUR – Popular swiss watchmaker Swatch Malaysia has filed a judicial review application to challenge the government's action seizing 172 of its watches including those from the Pride Collection series.

The company filed the application through Messrs Nizam Bashir & Associates at the High Court, naming the Home Ministry, the ministry's secretary of the enforcement division, Home Minister and the government as respondents.

Between May 13 and 15, the Home Ministry's officers had seized the colourful watches from various Swatch outlets.

The notice of seizure by the ministry stated that the watches had elements of promoting the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community.

In Swatch's application, it claimed that the seizure of the watches was illegal as it was not something that was defined as a form of 'publication' under the Printing Presses and Publication Act (PPPA).

Under the act, the term 'publication' is used for only documents, newspapers, books, or any materials in printed form.

Given that the watches had not been determined to be a prohibited publication, Swatch claimed that the officers had no power under the Act to enter it's retail stores and seize the watches.

Swatch also reiterated that its company lawyers had written to the ministry last month to demand for the government to return the watches, but the watches were never returned.

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The company also contended that the respondents' action was done for improper political motives, given the upcoming state elections in several key states in the country.

It claimed that the minister was seeking to show his ‘Islamic’ credentials for political purposes.

Swatch is seeking a certiorari order to quash the seizure notices.

It is also seeking an order to compel the ministry to return the 172 watches, if its judicial review bid is allowed.

Apart from that, the company is seeking for aggraveated and exemplary damages as well as costs and other reliefs deemed fit by the court.

It was reported that the Pride Collection watches which featured rainbow colours, were seized after social media users linked the collection to British band Coldplay’s support for the LGBTQ community.