By Malaysiakini

Lawyer New Sin Yew has spoken out against the home ministry’s raids on Swatch products celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, saying it was blatantly unlawful.

“It was reported that the raid was done under the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA).

“For the home ministry to conduct the raid, there must first be a ‘prohibited publication’.

“’Prohibited publication’ means a publication that is prejudicial to public order, morality, security, public or national interest,” said New on Twitter.

He said for such raids to be carried out, the home minister must first make an order that the Swatch Pride Collection is a “prohibited publication” and the order would then be open to be challenged in court for being “irrational, arbitrary and unconstitutional”.

“This order must then be published in the gazette.

“There was no such order. The Attorney General’s Chambers’ website doesn’t show any gazette to this effect,” said New, adding that Swatch should sue the home ministry and all the officers responsible for acting with such impunity.

Earlier, the Swatch Group said it is disappointed and concerned over the seizures of rainbow-coloured watches celebrating LGBT rights by the home ministry.

“We strongly contest that our collection of watches using rainbow colours and having a message of peace and love could be harmful to whomever,” its CEO Nick Hayek said in a statement to Reuters.

Quoting the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, Reuters also said the Swatch group would take legal action to recover the goods.

Hayek has confirmed the raids on May 13 and 14 and the seizures of numerous watches to financial daily The Edge.

Hayek also denied any political motives for the watches.

It was reported that home ministry officers raided Swatch stores 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.

Further, another five stores received warnings — KTCC (Terengganu), Aeon KB, Aman Central Kedah, City Square, and Viva City Kuching.

The rainbow watches belong to the Swiss watchmaker’s Pride Collection, created to celebrate the pride movement and its message of equality and diversity.

The rainbow flag symbolises the LGBT movement, which supports the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

While many global brands and retailers have an annual range of rainbow-themed items released in conjunction with pride month every June, such products are typically not made available in stores in Malaysia or other Muslim-majority countries with a strong stand against the LGBT community.