KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 — Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has insisted that Malaysia seized watches by Swiss watchmaker Swatch as the term “LGBTQ” — which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer — was featured on the watches.
Saifuddin reportedly said that the model was not sold in other countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but was being sold in Malaysia and that the Home Ministry had taken action following public complaints.
“It was not sold in that country as they know the religious sensitivities there,” he was quoted telling Berita Harian yesterday, referring to the Swatch Group.
“That watch clearly had the word LGBTQ printed and the Home Ministry acted on public complaints.”
This comes as Swatch International confirmed to Malay Mail that its watches from its Pride collection — featuring colours matching the LGBT movement's rainbow flag — and watches with a similar Pride theme have only been seized in Malaysia, but not in any other countries.
Despite Saifuddin's remark, Malay Mail reported that the Home Ministry had seized 172 Swatch watches from 11 shopping malls in Malaysia from May 13 to May 15, with the seized watches actually being of nine different designs.
The nine different designs which were seized in Malaysia are: the six different coloured-designs under Swatch's 2023 Pride collection, the “Stripe Fierce” model, the “Alla Parata” model, and the “Peace Hand Love” model.
Only the “Stripe Fierce” model has the abbreviation “LGBTQIA2S” on it along with rainbow loops. “LGBTQIA2S” stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and two-spirit, which serves to symbolise the inclusion of minority sexual and gender identities.
Malay Mail cannot yet independently verify that this model is not sold in the UAE.
On May 25, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said he did not have enough details to comment on the seizure of 172 Swatch watches and would leave it to the Home Ministry to explain, but said he only knew that the seizure was due to the watches having “LGBT symbols” instead of due to the watches' colours.