KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 ― Dancer Bilqis Hijjas was today acquitted of insulting behaviour by dropping yellow balloons during an official event attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife in a mall last August.
Magistrate Mohd Faizal Ismail said the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case against Bilqis, ruling that it had not shown that her action with the balloons amounted to “insulting behaviour”.
He pointed out that the definition in the dictionary by the country’s leading Malay-language authority Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka requires an alleged “insult” to be aimed or felt by a person, but pointed out that no one had been insulted by Bilqis’s actions.
“This court finds that an insulting action has to be referred to someone who felt they were insulted,” the magistrate said when delivering his decision at the end of the prosecution’s case.
The magistrate said three witnesses had felt that Bilqis behaved insultingly, but noted that auxiliary police officer Irmalinda Zaimardy could not have been insulted as she was merely carrying out her duties by stopping the balloon-dropping, while event organiser Datin Sunita Mei-Lin Rajakumar only found out about Bilqis’s actions after it had happened and the event had ended.
As for investigating officer Izwan Paijan’s testimony that Bilqis’ actions were “rude”, the magistrate said it was merely the view of the eighth and final prosecution witness in this case.
“The attitude of being kurang ajar dan biadap (rude) can be said to be a moral wrong, and not a criminal offence,” he said.
The magistrate also found that the prosecution had failed to prove that Bilqis had “intent to provoke” anger, noting that two security personnel had apprehended her without having to use any force.
“The accused also offered a balloon to the second prosecution witness (Pavilion mall security executive Karamjit Singh Shabeg Singh) but it was refused by the second prosecution witness and the second prosecution witness ordered her to stop her actions.
“This shows that the accused has no intention to provoke anger,” he said, again highlighting that Sunita had only discovered the balloon-dropping after the event ended.
The prosecution also failed to prove the final element of the charge, as it was shown that there was no “breach of peace” caused by Bilqis’s actions, the magistrate said.
“This ingredient can be seen from the prosecution witnesses, who said there was no breach of peace, the event went on smoothly, no chaos occurred, no one ran when the balloons fell from the fifth floor to second floor,” he said.
He also noted the mall’s security officers testified that they helped prevent any unwanted incident by apprehending Bilqis.
“The court finds that the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case against the accused and the court discharges the accused without her having to enter defence,” he said.
Charged under Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955 last September 23, Bilqis faces a maximum RM100 fine over alleged “insulting behaviour” with the purported purpose of inciting anger that may cause a disturbance of peace.
The charge did not specify who was alleged to have been insulted.
In the incident last August 31 at around 3.15pm at Pavilion, several yellow balloons printed with the words “Free media”, “Democracy” and “Justice” were said to have been released from the mall’s fifth floor to the second floor where the Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival’s opening ceremony was held.
During the trial, several of the prosecution’s witnesses had associated the yellow colour of the balloons to the two-day Bersih 4 rally last August 29 and August 30 by electoral reform group Bersih 2.0, where protesters had sought the prime minister’s removal.