Sale of karambit knife to 11-year-old not prohibited, but anyone using it without lawful purpose can be charged, says police

The police have responded to an incident where a child was allowed to purchase a knife from box-shop store Hako at Tampines 1.

In response to a Stomp query, a police spokesman said that the sale of the knife in question, a karambit, is not prohibited. Anyone who is found with the item in a public place without a lawful purpose, however, may be charged for possessing an offensive weapon.

On Sep 20, the mother of the 11-year-old child who bought the karambit took to Facebook to share what happened. A karambit is a curved combat knife that resembles a claw.

In the Facebook post, the child's mother said that her son came home with the knife after purchasing it at Hako for $15.

She said that she was 'appalled' at how easy it was for her son, who is in primary school, to buy the item.

The karambit is 9.5cm long and can be used to slice a thick piece of cardboard effortlessly, said the netizen.

After her son bought the knife, the mother called the shop, and the retailer told her that the weapon is allowed by the police to be sold to any aged individual.

When contacted with regard to the matter, a police spokesman told Stomp:

"The police do not prohibit nor regulate the sale of knives like folding knives, hunting knives and utility knives, including karambits.

"However, 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 under the Corrosives and Explosives Substances and Offensive Weapons Act. 

"The Police are currently conducting an investigation to determine if any person has committed this offence."

According to The New Paper, the police have questioned a Hako staffer after the netizen's post was published. The staffer was seen telling plainclothes police officers that 30 of such knives had been sold.

The management of Hako and Toy Outpost have also addressed the developments in a statement on Facebook.

In the statement, they said that they rent lockers to individuals who wish to sell their products. They act as a middleman, handling the retail sales of these merchants.

They stressed that they are 'careful not to allow merchants to sell items that are banned or infringe any law in Singapore'.

With regard to the karambit, they said that 'the merchant performed due diligence by writing to the Singapore Police Force asking if it is legal to import the 'knife''.

He or she was then informed that there were no prohibitions on such items, according to the statement.

Hako and Toy Outpost, however, have decided to pull the karambits off its shelves in two stores.

They said:

"Following the call of a concerned parent who claimed her 12-year-old son bought the item (which is $30 and not $15 as what she has stated on her Facebook post), we took action and requested the merchant to put up a note stating items should not be sold to minors aged 14 and below.

"Hours after the call, towards the end of the day, we decided to take a conservative move in asking the merchant to cease the sale of the 'knife' (in our stores at Bedok Mall and Tampines 1) after much deliberation among the management. 

"Sale of other sharp items like penknives, scissors and everyday use products will still continue."