Prosecution appeals again against ‘balloon girl’s’ acquittal

By Ida Lim
Bilqis (right) was previously acquitted on July 1, 2017 by the Magistrates’ Court without her defence being called. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 — The prosecution has again appealed against the acquittal of dance producer Bilqis Hijjas of a charge of “insulting behaviour” for dropping yellow balloons at a 2015 event graced by the prime minister.

Latheefa Koya, a lawyer for Bilqis, today said: “Our client just informed that she has been served the notice of appeal.”

When contacted, Bilqis — also popularly known as the “balloon girl” — confirmed that she had received the notice of appeal.

“Of course I am deeply disappointed that they are choosing to continue with this wild goose chase. It’s a great misuse of public funds and prosecutorial attention.

“If the direction to continue pursuing me on this case is coming from higher authorities, then I think it only demonstrates their insecurity with even the slightest shows of political resistance, and subsequently the weakness of their hold on a democratic society,” she told Malay Mail in a written response.

In the notice of appeal dated last December 4 that was sighted by the media, deputy public prosecutor Nurakmal Farhan Aziz said the prosecution was “not satisfied” with the Magistrates’ Court’s November 27, 2017 decision to acquit and discharge Bilqis of the charge and was therefore appealing to the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

On November 27, magistrate Mohd Faizal Ismail acquitted Bilqis as he noted that the prosecution had failed to prove that she had hurt anyone by her actions, adding that her testimony made previously has been consistent and that she had complied with all orders from the police and mall security in 2015.

On September 23, 2015, Bilqis was charged with “insulting behaviour” with the purpose of provoking anger that may cause a breach of peace under Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955, which imposes a maximum RM100 fine.

The charge did not specify who was alleged to have been insulted.

She was alleged to have released several yellow balloons printed with the words “Free media,” “Democracy” and “Justice” on August 31, 2015 at around 3.15pm at the Pavilion mall in Kuala Lumpur during the Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival’s opening ceremony.

She was previously acquitted on July 1, 2017 by the Magistrates’ Court without her defence being called, but the High Court reversed the decision on October 3 after the prosecution appealed.

She entered her defence at the Magistrates’ Court on November 6, 2017 as ordered by the High Court, leading to her acquittal for the second time on November 27.