Although harmless, yellow balloons still disturbed PM gig, witness tells court

‘Balloon girl’ Bilqis Hijjas at the Majistrate Court, September 23, 2015. ― Picture  by Yusof Mat Isa
‘Balloon girl’ Bilqis Hijjas at the Majistrate Court, September 23, 2015. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, April 26 ― The yellow balloons released last August 31 at a mall here had disturbed an event attended by the prime minister, a witness at the “balloon girl” trial told a Magistrates Court today, despite later agreeing that the balloons had not caused any harm.

Auxiliary police officer Irmalinda Zaimardy, who was then on duty, said she felt “panic” when the first of the yellow balloons were suddenly dropped onto the event area.

“Before that event, (there was) a Bersih gathering. The balloons that fell were yellow, so the event was disturbed,” Irmalinda said during cross-examination.

She explained that the colour yellow was associated with the Bersih 4 rally that “disturbed the peace”.

“Disturb the safety. Disturb the event,” she said when asked if the prime minister disliked the yellow colour or the Bersih 2.0 gathering.

When asked later if the prime minister was afraid of yellow balloons, she said “no”.

Irmalinda was testifying as the prosecution's first witness in the trial of Bilqis Hijjas, who allegedly dropped the yellow balloons from the fifth floor of the Pavilion mall.

Under cross-examination by Bilqis' lawyer Melissa Sasidaran, Irmalinda said she was given a security briefing before the event to “protect the safety” of the prime minister and the Pavilion mall area.

Despite insisting that the yellow balloons had disturbed the event, Irmalinda later confirmed that the public did not run helter-skelter when the balloons fell, agreeing that this was because balloons are not dangerous items.

She replied “correct” when asked if balloons are harmless regardless of their colour, shape or logos carried.

Irmalinda agreed that balloons are common objects in shopping malls, also explaining that she did not detain another person in the mall with two yellow balloons as that individual was merely “holding” them and did not throw them.

Earlier when questioned by deputy public prosecutor Nurakmal Farhan Aziz on why she felt that Bilqis's actions could disturb the peace, Irmalinda said she was worried for the prime minister's safety as the Bersih 4 rally was held just a day before his event.

“It was possible that people from Bersih were in that area and possibly it may affect the safety of the prime minister that was present at the event,” she said, later adding that a commotion was possible.

The hearing before magistrate Muhamad Faizal Ismail resumes at 3pm.

Bilqis, the daughter of prominent architect Hijjas Kasturi was charged last September 23 with “insulting behaviour” with the alleged purpose of inciting anger which may cause a disturbance of peace.

In the alleged August 31 incident at 3.15pm, several yellow balloons printed with the words “Free media”, “Democracy” and “Justice” were said to have been released after electoral reform advocacy group Bersih 2.0's two-day rally on August 29 and August 30.

Bilqis was charged under Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955 and faces a maximum RM100 fine if found guilty.

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