Woman who dropped balloons at event attended by Malaysian PM Najib acquitted of insulting behaviour

Dance producer Bilqis Hijjas was acquitted of insulting behaviour. She had dropped balloons at an event attended by Malaysian PM Najib Razak and his wife. PHOTO: THE STAR

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A Malaysian court has acquitted a woman of behaving in an insulting manner in public when she allegedly dropped yellow balloons at an event attended by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife.

Magistrate Muhamad Faizal Ismail said that the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case against dance producer Bilqis Hijjas, the daughter of prominent architect Hijjas Kasturi.

"Such a case was rare to have had a full trial as most would have just admitted guilt. Nonetheless, as there was no previous cases of similar judgment to refer to, I had made careful consideration from both the prosecution and the defence," Judge Muhamad Faizal said on Friday (July 1).

He said the statements of witnesses could not prove that Bilqis intended to provoke and infuriate anger.

"The witness who said there was a breach of peace could not be proven as the event proceeded as planned and there was no stampede among the public when the balloons fell," he said.

Bilqis' counsel, Eric Paulsen, said he was pleased with the judgment as the case had been exaggerated.

"The judgment shows that Malaysians have the right to protest peacefully and the act of throwing balloons should not be criminalised," he said.

Bilqis, 36, said she was grateful to the judge for having considered the case with great seriousness. "It is a very minor event and it is a dangerous precedent that such a minor offence can be taken as a crime," she said.

Bilqis was accused of dropping the balloons from the fifth floor at the Pavilion shopping mall at the popular Bukit Bintang shopping district in Kuala Lumpur at about 3.15pm on Aug 31, while Datuk Seri Najib and Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor were attending the DiverseCity 2015 Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival on the ground floor.

The balloons contained the words "democracy", "free media", and "justice".

She was charged under Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955 for behaving in an insulting manner with the purpose of stirring anger which would likely cause disturbance.

The offence carries a fine of not more than RM100 (S$33) upon conviction.

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