‘Something could go wrong’, mall security says after witnessing yellow balloons at PM gig

When explaining why he took action, Pavillion mall's security executive Karamjit Singh Shabeg Singh said he thought Bilqis Hijjas wanted to “provoke something” by releasing the yellow balloons. ― Picture  by Yusof Mat Isa
When explaining why he took action, Pavillion mall's security executive Karamjit Singh Shabeg Singh said he thought Bilqis Hijjas wanted to “provoke something” by releasing the yellow balloons. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 — A senior security officer today said the Pavilion mall experienced no problems with Bersih 4’s yellow-clad participants, but said he was worried of possible provocation when yellow balloons were released at the prime minister’s event after the rally last year.

Karamjit Singh Shabeg Singh, 53, who was then on duty as a security executive that oversees about 50 security personnel, confirmed that there was “no disturbance” when Bersih rally-goers came and dined in the mall last August.

But at the August 31 event which Karamjit said was just a day or two after “thousands” of Bersih 4 rally participants passed by Bukit Bintang, he expressed his worries when he spotted the yellow balloons.

“Because that day there was event of prime minister, government [sic]; everyone knows Bersih is anti-government, right?

“So then, went up, saw the lady — she was wearing yellow t-shirt — and yellow balloons [sic]

“Automatically in our mind, something could go wrong [sic],” he told deputy public prosecutor Nurakmal Farhan Aziz.

Karamjit was testifying at the trial of Bilqis Hijjas, who is alleged to have dropped several yellow balloons from the Pavilion mall’s fifth floor to the second floor area where an event attended by the prime minister was held.

Karamjit, who was stationed at the second floor, said he had first thought that a child had thrown the first yellow balloon and was still looking around when the second balloon fell, but finally saw a hand in a pink jacket throwing the third balloon from the fifth floor.

He said he saw Bilqis blowing a yellow balloon with the word “Democracy” printed on it when he reached the fifth floor, adding that he asked her to stop before seizing the balloon along with another yellow balloon which was not inflated.

When explaining why he took action, Karamjit said he thought Bilqis wanted to “provoke something”, later adding: “If balloon fell on someone, it will make someone angry”.

Having testified that he saw the balloons falling behind the stage of the prime minister’s event, Karamjit said there were two restaurants on both sides of the event where he feared the balloons would fall on customers and anger them.

“They will be angry, they will report to Pavilion’s management that security is lax and no one is watching the lower floors,” said Karamjit, who has been working for close to five years at Pavilion.

“We don’t know if outside there is the yellow group, other groups, the situation will become worse,” he said, when explaining his worry that there would be provocation in the mall linked to the Bersih 4 rally.

When cross-examined by Bilqis’s lawyer Eric Paulsen, Karamjit said Bersih rally-goers will only be stopped if they “provoke something” in Pavilion mall, confirming that there were no fights or disturbance when they came and dined on the day of their rally.

He confirmed that he received no complaints from the organiser of the tourism-linked event which the prime minister attended, the Tourism Ministry or the Prime Minister’s Office.

He agreed it was not unusual to have balloons during events in the mall, and that they were not scary or dangerous unless containing acid or powder.

But he also said that there were no balloons involved in the prime minister’s event, noting that the mall security would be given early notification by event organisers if they planned to release balloons.

Earlier during his testimony, Karamjit said the Pavilion management does not prohibit customers from bringing in balloons to the mall, but noted that they will be stopped if they attempted to thrown them down.

The hearing before magistrate Muhamad Faizal Ismail resumes on May 5, with four more witnesses expected to be called in by the prosecution during the trial.

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.

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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