The controversy sparked by Coldplay’s performance in Malaysia, in support of the LGBT+ community, has been the talk of the town for the past fortnight, as locals noted that the issue shed light on the clash of opposing perspectives concerning LGBT+ rights and freedom of expression.
In an unfortunate and unforeseen turn of events, the flak escalated, enveloping Swatch’s Pride Collection, a range of watches adorned with vibrant rainbow colours symbolising inclusivity and acceptance. Between 13 and 14 May, authorities from the Ministry of Home Affairs (KDN) responded by conducting raids on Swatch stores and confiscating the Pride Collection watches.
Swatch’s CEO, Nick Hayek Jr., expressed astonishment and dismay, underscoring the brand’s unwavering commitment to diversity and raising doubts about the rationale behind the seizures.
This contentious situation raises critical concerns about Malaysia’s stance on cultural diversity, the promotion of inclusivity, and the limitations imposed on free speech within marketing practices. Netizens have echoed these sentiments on social media, particularly on Twitter, where a newfound trend has seen users mocking the authorities, referencing other rainbow-coloured products and logos – essentially asking if these will be ‘cancelled’ as well.
Here are a few viral examples:
In essence, these internet users are urging Malaysia to engage in substantive discussions on the value of embracing diversity while upholding traditions with the goal to foster open dialogue and an increased awareness of diverse viewpoints.
Their fervent response reveals a growing need for reform and a more inclusive society.
Nevertheless, a substantial amount of netizens also prevail on the opposing side, standing firm with their belief that KDN had made a logical choice. The mention of Coldplay also sprung back into discussion as many voiced agreement with the statements of PAS leaders who called for the concert to be cancelled due to concerns that it could threaten the nation’s traditional ideas and values, particularly those pertaining to the LGBT community.
In fact, just yesterday, netizens on TikTok were found blaming the British rock band for the storm that hit KL, claiming that the divine forces were perturbed by the upcoming show and expressing that wrath through heavy rainfall.
Noting the religious aspect of their displeasure, some also urged the ticket holders to repent, also stating that it was not too late to cancel the show.
Prior to this, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin addressed the matter in an interview with Malaysian national radio station HITZ, where he highlighted that irrespective of differences in faith or other variables, Coldplay welcomes everyone to attend their show. He emphasised Coldplay’s love for them and extended that warmth to those who might not be happy with their visit.
It was just last week that disputes arose regarding the ticketing system behind the upcoming concert, where hundreds of thousands of buyers were left in the queue despite their extensive efforts. This sparked the issue of scalpers and bots misusing tech to get ahead and make purchases, so much so an online petition was established prompting the band to have an additional show here.