Consider dropping charge against Bersih 'balloon girl', Malaysian Bar urges AG

Police have charged Bilqis Hijjas who was detained earlier on Aug 31, 2015 for distributing Bersih 4 balloons at an upscale shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur. — Picture courtesy of Bilqis Hijjas’ Facebook page
Police have charged Bilqis Hijjas who was detained earlier on Aug 31, 2015 for distributing Bersih 4 balloons at an upscale shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur. — Picture courtesy of Bilqis Hijjas’ Facebook page

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — Saying it does not see how the act of dropping balloons could be interpreted as a criminal offence under the law, the Malaysian Bar appealed today to the Attorney-General to reconsider the charge against Bilqis Hijjas.

In a statement, Bar Council president Steven Thiru said it was difficult to understand how the act by Bilqis had caused anger or a breach of peace, or how it could be categorised as “insulting behaviour” under Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955.

“The Malaysian Bar therefore urges the Attorney General to reconsider the matter and withdraw the charge.

“The prosecution would be inimical to the exercise of fundamental liberties, and a waste of time and an unnecessary drain on the resources of the Attorney General’s Chambers, which would be better spent pursuing the prosecution of crimes of greater or immediate concern,” Steven said.

Earlier today, Bilqis, also known as the Bersih “balloon girl”, claimed trial to the charge at a magistrate’s court here.

The daughter of famed architect Hijjas Kasturi faces a maximum fine of RM100 if convicted under the provision.

Bilqis was initially probed under Section 504 of the Penal Code for “provoking a breach of peace” by distributing the balloons at the Pavilion shopping mall in Bukit Bintang during the DiverseCity International Art Festival which PM Najib had attended.

It is understood that Bilqis had dropped the balloons from the top floor of the mall, which later fell behind the stage where Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor were seated.

The seven balloons were decorated with the words “Free media”, “Democracy” and “Justice”, among others.

Najib and Rosmah were said to have ignored the balloons. 

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