Store stops sale of blade after boy, 12, buys one

Box-shop Hako says knife not banned in S'pore, merchant told police of import

Popular box-shop chain Hako has pulled a merchant's karambit knives from its shelves after a parent complained that her 12-year-old son had bought one.

Police conducted investigations at Hako's Tampines 1 outlet yesterday, after a police report was filed by the parent the day before.

In a statement last night, the police said it does not prohibit nor regulate the sale of knives like folding knives, hunting knives and utility knives, including karambits.

But it added that "anyone found in possession of these knives in a public place without a lawful purpose may be liable for the offence of possessing an offensive weapon", and it is currently investigating if any individual has committed this offence.

On Wednesday, 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.

The knife doubles as a self-defence weapon, said interest websites. Madam Farrah's story on Facebook was shared over 2,900 times by 6pm yesterday, with parents similarly expressing shock over the incident.

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

Madam Farrah Diba posted a photo of the lethal-looking blade on Facebook on Wednesday and shared that her 12-year-old son had bought the karambit knife from the Hako shop at Tampines 1. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ FARRAH DIBA

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

Explaining its reasons on Facebook yesterday, Hako said it decided to "take a conservative move" in asking the merchant involved to stop its sale at the Bedok Mall and Tampines 1 Hako outlets.

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

Hako said it is careful not to allow merchants to sell prohibited items, adding that the merchant had written to the police before importing the knives.

Madam Farrah told The Straits Times that her son bought the karambit for $15 on Sept 7, and placed it in their home's glass cabinet along with other family souvenirs.

The events planner said she has nothing against the sale of the knife, but was surprised 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.

She said she was relieved to hear Hako's eventual decision.

However, she has punished her son by docking his daily allowance for a month, so that he will learn that such items are not to be bought thoughtlessly.

Hako said the merchant in question imported the karambit to sell to cosplayers. The company said the "sale of other sharp items like penknives, scissors and everyday use products will still continue".

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

"Our company practice is to sell only 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2017, with the headline 'Store stops sale of blade after boy, 12, buys one'. Subscribe