In balloon girl trial, witness says had orders to avoid Bersih commotion

‘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 — A security officer today told a Magistrates Court that she had specific orders to prevent any commotion linked to the Bersih 4 rally, in a mall event attended last August 31 by the prime minister.

Auxiliary police officer Irmalinda Zaimardy, who has been serving at the capital city’s Pavilion mall for the last four years, said she attended a briefing by her supervisor prior to the event.

Irmalinda said she was told at the briefing to ensure the event would not be disturbed, confirming the Bersih rally was mentioned during the briefing.

“No commotion from the Bersih gathering when the event is ongoing,” she said when asked about the specific order relating to the Bersih rally.

Irmalinda was testifying as the prosecution’s first witness in the trial of Bilqis Hijjas, who allegedly dropped several yellow balloons from the fifth floor of the Pavilion mall to the second floor area where an event attended by the prime minister was held.

Bilqis, the daughter of prominent architect Hijjas Kasturi, has since then been popularly known as the balloon girl.

Today, Irmalinda also told deputy public prosecutor Nurakmal Farhan Aziz that she had felt Bilqis’s actions obstructed her work and responsibilities in ensuring the safety of her employer, the public, and luminaries including the prime minister.

Earlier during cross-examination, Irmalinda confirmed she had collected seven burst balloons from the second floor area after detaining and handing Bilqis over to her supervisor.

After being shown a close-circuit television recording of an individual wearing a green shirt throwing a yellow balloon, Irmalinda said it was “possible” that not all seven balloons were released by Bilqis — who was earlier shown wearing pink in the video recordings.

When quizzed by Bilqis’s lawyer, Melissa Sasidaran, Irmalinda confirmed that the Pavilion mall has no public restrictions against yellow balloons within the mall.

But she said anyone except children found throwing balloons within the mall on August 31 would be detained, confirming that the arrests would still be made even if the prime minister were not present.

“If they don’t make a commotion, will not be arrested,” she replied when asked if those wearing yellow shirts would be detained.

Irmalinda had this morning said the yellow colour of the balloons was associated to the Bersih 4 rally, including its banners and the shirts of its participants.

Irmalinda told defence lawyer Eric Paulsen that it was the balloons that drove her to detain Bilqis, instead of the words “Democracy”, “Free Media” and “Justice” printed on the balloons.

The hearing before magistrate Muhamad Faizal Ismail resumes tomorrow morning, with five more witnesses expected to be called in by the prosecution during the trial.

Last September 23, Bilqis was charged under Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955 over alleged “insulting behaviour” with the purported purpose of inciting anger which may cause a disturbance of peace.

She faces a maximum RM100 fine if found guilty.

In the alleged August 31 incident at 3.15pm at Pavilion, several yellow balloons printed with the words “Free media”, “Democracy” and “Justice” were said to have been released.

Electoral reform advocacy group Bersih 2.0 held a two-day rally on August 29 and August 30 last year to seek the prime minister’s removal. 

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