KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 ― Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's event last August at the Pavilion mall was carried out smoothly despite an incident involving yellow balloons, the Magistrate Court was told today.
Sergeant Norhalim Selamat, who heads the Pavilion mall's auxiliary police team of 43 personnel said his team’s swift action enabled the event to be carried out without a hitch.
He said not many people noticed the balloons as they fell from a higher floor to the event venue as security personnel "acted fast".
"The event still went on smoothly because I succeeded in prevention, no one ran because I kept it under control. No problem," the 37-year-old later said when asked if the audience ran away when the balloons fell.
He confirmed that the event organiser, the Prime Minister's Department and the Tourism Ministry had not lodged any complaints about the event, which he said was due to the event proceeding smoothly.
Norhalim is the fourth witness testifying at the trial of Bilqis Hijjas, who is accused of insulting behaviour through the alleged dropping of yellow balloons from the mall’s fifth floor to the event venue at the second floor area.
During today's hearing, Norhalim said holding and bringing in non-helium gas balloons into the mall was allowed, but said that he viewed the act of throwing balloons as an attempt to disrupt the event.
When questioned why action was taken on the throwing of yellow balloons bearing the words "Democracy" and "Free Media", he said: "I must cegah (pre-empt) before provocation happens."
Norhalim said he had given specific instructions in his pre-event briefing for Pavilion's security personnel to be equipped with batons, pepper spray, handcuffs and walkie-talkies due to the previous day's rally by Bersih 2.0.
"In the briefing, I prioritised the safety of the prime minister and all the VIPs that attended," he said.
Noting the event attended by the prime minister took place just a day before polls reform group Bersih 2.0's rally, Norhalim said he tapped into his past experience of facing a "riot" involving yellow-clad individuals during another Bersih rally while he was still stationed at the KL Sentral transport hub.
"I took the experience, I made sure that there's nothing that disturbed the prime minister, because the prime minister has to be respected as a leader of the country," he said.
Norhalim said the Bersih 2.0 group harbours intentions of ousting the prime minister, although he later acknowledged that the group has other demands such as pushing for free and fair elections.
He also said the arrest over the yellow balloons would still have happened even if the prime minister was not present, insisting that pre-emptive measures would be taken if an event is being disrupted.
Earlier, police photographer Conerlius anak Nadung from the Dang Wangi police station testified that he snapped and printed five photos of Pavilion mall as requested by the investigating officer.
Deputy public prosecutor Nurakmal Farhan Aziz and lawyer Eric Paulsen acted for the government and Bilqis respectively.
The hearing before magistrate Muhamad Faizal Ismail resumes tomorrow afternoon.
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 bearing the words “Free media”, “Democracy” and “Justice” were said to have been released.