Box-shop chain Hako pulls karambit knives from shelves after a 12-year-old buys one

Madam Farrah Diba's Primary 6 son bought a karambit with a 9.5cm-long blade from Hako at Tampines 1.
Madam Farrah Diba's Primary 6 son bought a karambit with a 9.5cm-long blade from Hako at Tampines 1.PHOTO: FACEBOOK / FARRAH DIBA

SINGAPORE - Popular "box-shop" chain Hako has pulled a merchant's karambit knives from its shelves, following a parent's complaint that her 12-year-old son managed to buy one.

The company said in a Facebook post on Thursday (Sept 21) that while the curved utility blade was not banned for sale in Singapore, it has decided to "take a conservative move" in asking the merchant involved to cease the sale of the knife at its Bedok Mall and Tampines 1 outlets.

This was done after "much deliberation", said Hako's management, which also runs the Toy Outpost chain. Both chains rent out shelf space to retailers to display their wares.

The day before, Madam Farrah Diba, 39, raised concerns about how easy it was for her Primary 6 son to buy a karambit with a 9.5cm-long blade from Hako at Tampines 1.

Her story on Facebook was shared over 2,500 times as of noon on Thursday (Sept 21), with parents similarly expressing shock that such knives could be so readily obtained at Hako, a popular store with young people and families for its trendy products, such as fidget spinners and mobile device accessories.

Calling the karambit "shockingly sharp and lethal", Madam Farrah said she was able to slice a thick piece of cardboard effortlessly, and questioned whether other kids could get their hands on them as well.

Following a phone call from Madam Farrah, Hako said it had asked the merchant to put up a note, stating that the knives were only to be sold to buyers above the age of 14. This was before it decided to pull the items off the shelves completely.

Hako said it is careful not to allow merchants to sell prohibited items, and in this case, the merchant - had exercised due diligence by writing to the police before importing them.

Madam Farrah told The Straits Times that her son had purchased the karambit on Sept 7, and placed it in their home's glass cabinet along with other family souvenirs.

Madam Farrah, an events planner, said she has nothing against the sale of karambit, but was shocked that her son, who was with a friend of the same age, had managed to buy it without any age verification, and while in his school uniform.

"It was actually a very easy, casual buy, like they bought candy from someone," she said.

"I just don't think these things should be sold at Hako, which is regarded as a toy shop for many kids. "

She has punished her 12-year-old son, by docking his daily allowance for a month, so he learns that such items are not to be bought thoughtlessly, she added.

Hako said the merchant in question had imported the karambit to sell to cos-players. While they will no longer be available, Hako said that the "sale of other sharp items like penknives, scissors and everyday use products will still continue".

According to the website, the karambit has a South-east Asian origin, and while it is an "every day" utility blade, it can be "readily doubled as a self-defence weapon" when necessary.

Retailers which sold karambit knives said that these are not prohibited items, unlike flick knives or knuckle-dusters, which are banned here.

A spokesman for Caesars, a licensed retailer of replica guns and swords, said customers buy the karambit from them for use on trekking, camping and fishing trips.

"Our company practice is to only sell to customers who are at least 18 years old. Upon purchase, we will take down their particulars. These records are periodically audited by the authorities," the spokesman added.

The Straits Times has contacted the Singapore Police Force for comments.