Activist Bilqis freed on ‘dropping’ balloons charge

Bilqis-HijjasKUALA LUMPUR: Dancer and performer Bilqis Hijjas, an activist, was freed from a charge of dropping balloons at a shopping mall last year.

Magistrate Mohd Faizal Ismail ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove the charge against Bilqis, the daughter of prominent architect Hijjas Kasturi, under Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act.

“The complainant’s evidence was not credible when she claimed that she was insulted,” said the magistrate. “She was only doing her job as an auxiliary policewoman to maintain peace at the mall.”

He added the witness from the organiser for the art event did not realise about the balloon incident until she was told. “Unless she realised it in the first place and reported to the authority, then the court can say the accused’s behaviour was insulting because it was targeting her.”

Magistrate Faizal also found the investigating officer, who told the court that Bilqis was “rude”, was merely giving his own opinion.

He also went through the Hansard and found that when the Minor Offences Bill was debated, it did not specify what was the intention of enacting Section 14. “There is no case law that can be referred to.”

“In facing a charge under minor offences, the accused would normally plead guilty.”

Magistrate Faizal then acquitted and discharged Bilqis from the charge.

She claimed trial for allegedly insulting behaviour by dropping balloons at a shopping mall. If found guilty, the maximum fine is RM100.

The yellow balloons had the words “justice” and “democracy”.

Speaking to reporters, Bilqis said she was grateful for the decision. “It was just very minor. If this is considered a crime, it will set a dangerous precedent,” she said.