Yellow Balloon Woman Acquitted Over Insulting Malaysia PM

Yellow Balloon Woman Acquitted Over Insulting Malaysia PM

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Bilqis was charged with the offence of releasing balloons at an event attended by the Malaysian Prime Minister. She said the case could have set a dangerous precedent.

The magistrate’s court in Kuala Lumpur today acquitted Bilqis Hijjas on her insulting behaviour charge for releasing yellow balloons at an event attended by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor in August last year.

Magistrate Mohd Faizal Ismail said the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence for the charge under Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955.

“We’re very pleased with the judgment. From the beginning, this case has been exaggerated beyond all comparison,” Bilqis’ lawyer Eric Paulsen told reporters after the judgment was delivered.

Bilqis expressed relief over the judgment, saying that it was a minor event and that it would be a dangerous precedent to consider such an event as a crime.

She was also grateful to the magistrate for considering the case with great care.

“I think today’s judgment is a hopeful gesture in a good direction,” she said.

The magistrate had earlier pointed out that most cases under the Minor Offences Act never make it to full trial as the crimes tend to be "direct,” though it is certainly not impossible.

In order to help in deciding on this unusual case, the magistrate had referred to the Parliament Hansard to determine the intent behind the enactment of the Act, though he said they were unsuccessful.

But Faizal considered each element of Section 14 and found that Bilqis’ action was not an insulting behaviour with the intent to provoke nor was there any breach of peace.

“Insulting behaviour has to be targeted at someone who felt insulted,” he said while reading the judgment, pointing out that most people, including the event organizer, did not even notice the falling balloons until later.

He also said that there did not appear to be any intention to provoke anger as witness testimony showed that Bilqis tried to offer the yellow balloons to mall security officers who apprehended her.

He chose to dismiss the event organizer’s statement that they had been angered by Bilqis’ action, as the organizer did not even notice the balloons when they were dropped.

No breach of peace

The magistrate said there was also no breach of peace as the event appeared to have progressed smoothly and the crowd remained under control.

As such, he declared that the prosecution had failed to prove prima facie case against Bilqis.

On Sept. 23 last year, Bilqis, a dancer, was charged with the offence of throwing yellow balloons from Level 5 to the foyer of the Pavillion Shopping mall in Jalan Bukit Bintang at 3:15pm on Aug. 31.

Daughter of the famous architect Hijjas Kasturi, she could be fined up to RM100, if convicted.

The trial, which began on Feb. 24 and ended on June 2, called eight prosecution witnesses.

The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article. The piece was first published on Malaysiakini.

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First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: Olivia Yang